Updated: December 29, 2019 7:00:21 am
A day after a video emerged, showing Meerut (City) SP Akhilesh N Singh asking some protesters against the new citizenship law to “go to Pakistan”, residents of Lasari Gate’s Saddique Nagar, where the video was shot, on Saturday said they fear a police backlash and felt “humiliated” at such a comment after spending “our entire lives here”.
“This is our home; they made us feel like outsiders,” one resident said — none of them want to be named, fearing a backlash.
While admitting that the SP’s “choice of words could have been better”, Additional DGP, Meerut Zone, Prashant Kumar backed the force: “The officers showed great restraint and neither caned nor fired at protesters.” He questioned the timing of the video’s release and said “anti-India slogans and slogans sympathising with neighbouring country were raised”.
Several local residents, who claimed to have seen the SP’s outburst, however, said no “pro-Pakistan” slogan was raised. Police rushed into the lane, chasing “four boys” who weren’t part of any protests, multiple residents said.
The Indian Express had on Friday reported that the video clip shows SP Singh telling three people, “Yeh jo kaali aur peeli patti baandhe huye hain, inse keh do Pakistan chale jao.khaoge yahan ka, gaoge kahin aur ka (those with black and yellow bands, tell them to go to Pakistan. You eat here but sing praises of another place).”
Singh had on Friday said his comments were in reaction to some “anti-social elements making pro-Pakistan statements”.
One resident said: “People were coming out of the mosque around 1.15 pm when we saw 10-15 police officials enter the lane, hurling abuses at everyone. It is wrong of the police to say they were protesters. They (police) wanted to intimidate us.”
The three people the SP addressed — Furkan, Haji Anwaar and Iqbal — are residents of the colony and had stepped out for prayers at the time, residents said. Furkaan and Iqbal run clothes businesses and Haji Anwaar deals with leather import and export.
A resident said that after the video emerged, the three have limited their social interaction, fearing a police backlash.
A neighbour of Haji said the trio did not have anything to do with the protests. “They were only standing there, when the policeman spoke to them that way…we have been keeping peace. Since they are visible in the video, they feel police might target them again,” the neighbour said.
ADG Kumar said, “The said video was shot on December 20. What is the motive behind releasing it so late? If this incident occurred, the video should have come out the same day. When everything passed off peacefully on Friday, the video was released as per a conspiracy. It is clear that stone-pelting had taken place and ADM (City) and SP (City) went to control the situation… Pamphlets of PFI and SGPI were distributed.”
Kumar said the officers “showed great restraint”, and residents were “sternly told that they can go anywhere they want to, but they can’t cause destruction.”
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