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Sunday, September 19, 2021

Arrest of Md Shoaib, SR Darapuri in UP insults their human rights work legacy

Most surprising was the incarceration of Darapuri, a retired inspector general of police. Darapuri has been an untiring campaigner of human rights, especially Dalit rights.

Written by Sandeep Pandey |
Updated: December 31, 2019 9:41:15 am
Retired IPS officer SR Darapuri, who was arrested for protesting against the new citizenship law, outside a court in Lucknow on Saturday. (Express photo by Abhinav Saha)

On December 19, the day nationwide protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens were planned, me and my close friends — advocate Mohammad Shoaib and retired IPS officer S R Darapuri, were put under house arrest in Lucknow.

Today, both of them are in jail. Shoaib was not produced before any magistrate before being sent to jail and the first magistrate before whom Darapuri was produced had refused to send him to jail. They were picked up by the police from their respective homes much before the arrests were officially made. When they were under house arrest, how could they have participated in any violence outside?

Shoaib was already a member of the youth wing of the Socialist Party when I was born in 1965. He first went to jail for a month in the late 1960s, as a student in Gonda, for violating CRPC Section 144. During his university convocation, Shoaib burned his degree in the presence of then President V V Giri for raising a slogan that the youth want jobs not degrees. He was fined Rs 50 and debarred from future admission.

Presently, he is the state president of Socialist Party (India). Committed to socialist values, he has been taking up cases of people who find it difficult to engage a lawyer for financial and political reasons. In his later years of practice, he also took up cases of youth who were implicated in terrorism or related cases. He has been successful in getting 13 such accused in different cases including Aftab Alam Ansari acquitted from the courts.

Any fair society would have honoured Shoaib rather than try to paint him as anti-national. His courteous demeanour and personality stand in contrast to what the Lucknow police would have us believe. Shoaib and his clients were alleged to have raised “Pakistan Zindabad” slogans, news about which was published in local newspapers without reasoning as to why any accused in a terror case, and his advocate, would raise a slogan that could imperil his chances of acquittal!

Most surprising was the incarceration of Darapuri, a retired inspector general of police. Darapuri has been an untiring campaigner of human rights, especially Dalit rights. He also contested the 2019 Lok Sabha election from Lucknow on behalf of the Lok Rajniti Manch, founded by the late Kuldip Nayar in 2004. Since then, Darapuri has contested two more elections on behalf of All India People’s Front, an organisation fighting for forest rights of the tribals in Sonebhadra district of UP. He too, like Shoaib, is a source of strength for the persecuted.

A lot of my colleagues working at the grassroots call him directly to seek his intervention when they face harassment by the police or powerful local figures. We have jointly worked on a number of things — fact-finding in cases of human rights violations of Dalits, Muslims and members of downtrodden communities, public hearings on the implementation of various social welfare schemes like food security etc.

In 2008, he and I were part of a fact-finding team which produced a report declaring Shahbaz Ahmed from Lucknow innocent when he was picked up by Rajasthan police in the Jaipur bomb blast case — Shahbaz was recently acquitted by the court too. Now, the Anti-Terrorism Squad is trying to frame him in a fresh case.

Siddharth Darapuri, whom I’ve seen as a child, wrote a Facebook post about his grandfather: “Loved by his juniors and seniors, he was a person who did not shoot a fleeting miscreant at point-blank range, even after the person fired at his jeep. He was a person, who went alone to make a gang surrender, and not finish them off in an encounter. He revolutionised the police-mess, which was marred and divided on caste lines. Never did he fire from his service revolver.”

I’m putting out these facts in the public domain for people to judge whether Shoaib and Darapuri, both septuagenarians, deserve to be in jail. Is the BJP government in UP being vindictive in order to cover up its failure in maintaining law and order?

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