Aligarh Muslim University student and anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) activist Sharjeel Usmani was arrested from his home in Azamgarh on Wednesday evening, said reports.
His arrest comes amid a series of arrests of student leaders and activists who had led or participated in the anti-CAA protests until earlier this year, especially in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.
According to reports, Usmani was picked up from his home by five policemen in plain clothes, who claimed to be from the Crime Branch.
A report by The Wire, quoting Usmani’s brother, said that when asked why they were there, one of the men said, “You don’t need to know. Sharjeel knows why we’re here”, pointing to Usmani, who was along with them, hands tied and head down.
The report further said that without showing any identification, the policemen demanded to see Usmani’s room. “They confiscated his laptop, all his books, and a solitary set of clothes. Each of us was made to stand and be photographed, stating our relation to him”, Usmani’s brother Areeb was quoted as saying. He also said no female officer was present, even though there were women, such as Usmani’s maternal aunt, who were also compelled to get themselves photographed, according to the report.
Meanwhile, Azamgarh SSP PRO told The Quint on Wednesday night, “I checked with all the police stations. We don’t know who arrested Sharjeel. There is some buzz on Twitter but we have no clue.”
The AMU student’s father reportedly refused to call this ‘an arrest’. “They did not tell us what charges were being pressed, they did not allow us to have any conversation with him”, said Sharjeel’s father, Tariq Usmani, while speaking to The Wire.
“As a parent, and more importantly, as citizens, we have the right to know,” said Sharjeel’s mother, Seema Usmani.
The Azamgarh police have made no formal statement about the arrest nonetheless, so far.
Several activists on Wednesday took to Twitter to condemn Sharjeel’s arrest and a number of journalists sought clarification on the confusion regarding his arrest.
Spoke to Azamgarh SSP, SP City, SHO Sidhari. No one’s saying a word about #SharjeelUsmani or his arrest. They claim to have no clue. Family and aides meanwhile say 5 men in plainclothes picked him up from his uncle’s place. WHAT IS HAPPENING.
— Fatima Khan (@khanthefatima) July 8, 2020
Dear @azamgarhpolice — There are reports of the arrest of Sharjeel Usmani, an AMU student by five plainclothes policemen in Azamgarh today. Could you provide any information or statement please? Thanks.
— Siddharth (@svaradarajan) July 8, 2020
Later, however, Amar Ujala, quoting the district’s additional SP (crime) Arvind Kumar, reported that the arrest was made by the anti-terrorism squad (ATS) of the Lucknow police and relates to the case filed in Aligarh last December.
The FIR registered by the police named Usmani and several other current and former AMU students. They were accused of offences under various sections of the IPC, including 307 (attempt to murder), as also 147 (rioting), 148, 149, 153, 188, 189, 332, 336, 504, 506, section 7 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, and Section 3 of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act. Recently, the police have also filed a chargesheet.