Omar Rashid, Uttar Pradesh correspondent of The Hindu, was detained and questioned exhaustively for more than two hours by the Lucknow police on Friday (December 20). He was also accused of participating in vandalism and released only after the Chief Minister’s office intervened.
The police threatened to book him under Section 120(B) of IPC (being party to criminal conspiracy) for asking to know the grounds of his detention. His Kashmiri background was invoked multiple times in abusive Hindi.
Rashid told the media, “Each time I was trying to ask them something they asked me to shut up. They used expletives and said you can put your journalism elsewhere, we don’t care about it. They told me they had proof against me.”
The journalist, along with local activist Robin Verma, was picked up by the Lucknow police at 6.45 pm on Friday evening when he was waiting outside UP BJP office for a press conference by the UP government. In his first-hand account in The Hindu, he said the men who picked them up did not even identify themselves as police. They were taken in without any explanation and their mobile phones were seized.
In Hazratganj police station, Robin Verma was thrashed with a leather belt and slapped multiple times. Despite identifying himself as a journalist, Rashid was locked up in a room and questioned about his connection to the protests in abusive language.
They were later taken to Sultanpuri police outpost where the cops asked them about the location of Kashmiri protestors. On answering in the negative, the cops even threatened to pull out Rashid’s beard and thrash him.
They were released around 8.30 pm after calls were made from the Chief Minister’s office. The cops, who did not heed to Rashid’s identity as a journalist earlier, now apologized to him and explained that he was picked up due to a confusion.
This comes in the midst of police detaining hundreds of protestors across the country including prominent historian Ramachandra Guha, who was detained and released later for protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act.