Mass detention, surveillance ahead of Modi’s Varanasi rally; govt employees were asked to fill the ground

Thousands of social activists, farmers’ leaders, and critics of the ruling party were put under house arrest. While some were taken into preventive custody, others were forced to leave the city

Mass detention, surveillance ahead of Modi’s Varanasi rally; govt employees were asked to fill the ground
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Vishwadeepak

Wary of protests, the Yogi government converted the whole Varanasi district and adjoining areas into something of a militarised zone ahead of PM Narendra Modi’s Monday rally, NH has learnt.

Thousands of social activists, farmers’ leaders, and critics of the ruling party were put under house arrest. While some were taken into preventive custody, others were forced to leave the city. Hundreds of men and women were surveilled by the police. Some were kept under house arrest for more than a week for no reason.

A bunch of notices issued by the administration, handwritten notices issued by the police, and photographs accessed by the NH prove that fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution were brazenly violated by the Yogi government – just because, it thought, people may protest against the PM.

Mass detention, surveillance ahead of Modi’s Varanasi rally; govt employees were asked to fill the ground
Mass detention, surveillance ahead of Modi’s Varanasi rally; govt employees were asked to fill the ground
Mass detention, surveillance ahead of Modi’s Varanasi rally; govt employees were asked to fill the ground

First-person account of detainees proves that the whole constituency which PM Modi represents was virtually turned into a cage.

Citing law and order problems, policemen were deployed to keep a watch on social activists. Many respected residents of the holy city told NH that they were asked to refrain from going outside, meeting people.

The haste and urgency on part of the government can be understood by the fact that in some cases, when asked to show the notices, the police served handwritten notices on the spot.

Issued under the Section 149 of the CRPC, one of the notices reads, “It is apprehended that you may indulge in activities which can be considered as a crime under the laws and which may disturb law and order situation…Though it has been told already, yet again you are informed that you are not allowed to do any program.”

“Any program organized by you will be considered as against the laws…therefore you are warned to not do anything which may cause an adverse effect on the law-and-order situation and be considered as a crime. If you do anything like that, action will be initiated against you under the laws,” added one such notice was issued on October 20 – five days before Modi’s rally.

Recalling that the whole city was turned into a big cage, activist Ram Janam Yadav told NH that two policemen came to his house with an order to put him under house arrest till October 25.

“Though I was not at my home, policemen kept coming. An inspector called me also on my mobile and inquired about my whereabouts,” added Ram Janam.

Suresh Rathaur – who runs MGNREGA Majdoor Union in Mehadiganj, where the rally was held – told NH that he was kept under house arrest for more than a week.

Mass detention, surveillance ahead of Modi’s Varanasi rally; govt employees were asked to fill the ground

Rathaur said, “I was kept under house arrest from October 11 to October 19. Then on the night of October 19, I slipped away to Lucknow to attend a seminar. When the police came to know that I am not at my home the next day, they started calling me. They wanted to know where I was and when I will be back to my village.”

People said that residents of Nagpur and Mehadiganj wanted to meet the PM to convey their grievances, but the BJP and the administration did not allow it. Instead, they were forced to stay away from the rally ground.

Incidentally, senior journalist and a native of Varanasi, Abhishek tweeted an official communique which asked doctors and nurses to listen to PM's speech.

“40 bighas of semi-ripe paddy crop harvested to prepare the rally ground. Farmers have paid a very heavy price. Forget about getting MSP for their crops, whatever they had in their hand was destroyed. Potholes were filled on the road leading to the rally ground. But just across the ground where PM addressed the rally lies a road filled with potholes. What kind of treatment is this?” questioned Rathaur.

It is important to note here that Section 144 was imposed in Varanasi and surrounding areas on October 12 to prevent people to join the nationwide call for the agitation given by the SKM.

“It has not been revoked since then. Not only this, government employees were asked by the administration to attend the rally,” said a prominent resident of Varanasi on the condition of anonymity.

“Even during the 1990s when the Mandir-Masjid issue was at its peak, Varanasi remained peaceful. The city of Shankar has never seen such a prolonged imposition of Section 144,” said Lenin Raghuvanshi, India head of the People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR).

“The so-called mainstream media showed what Modi said; they completely ignored the suppression of human rights, curb on people’s movement, violation of fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution. Democracy died in broad daylight in Modi’s constituency when thousands were put under detention,” added Raghuvanshi.

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