Anurag Kashyap, Aparna Sen, Alankrita Shrivastava and other film artistes seek judicial probe over UP violence around CAA protests

Press Trust of India

Dec 26, 2019 18:51:48 IST

Declaring that they don't support any form of vandalism, a group of film industry insiders, including Anurag Kashyap and Aparna Sen, on Thursday asked for an independent judicial probe into the violence against anti-CAA protesters in Uttar Pradesh.

The appeal to courts was read out at a press conference here by actors Swara Bhasker and Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub.

Stating that they "do not endorse or support any form of violence or vandalism", the group said the "sacred right" of citizens to protest peacefully had been violated in the state.

The letter -- signed by filmmakers Anurag Kashyap, Vikramaditya Motwane, Aparna Sen and Alankrita Shrivastava as well as actors Kubbra Sait, Mallika Dua, Konkona Sen-Sharma, Ayyub and Bhasker -- urged Indian courts "to take suo motu cognizance of what has ensued in UP and request that a judicial inquiry be instituted into the loss of life and limb and damage to property".

"The CAA itself, as a legislation, has sparked contrasting views. But irrespective of one's views on the merits of the law, there is something more fundamental that all of us agree on, in line with India's constitutional values - the right of citizens to protest peacefully; the duty of the state to respond proportionately, within the framework of law; and the ultimate role of courts in determining guilt and punishment."

The signatories to the letter said they believe that all these principles have been undermined in Uttar Pradesh, largely because of the excesses of the government.

"The fundamental rights to life and liberty, free speech, free movement, and association are also under great jeopardy in the state," it alleged.

They said they were "deeply disturbed" by the scale of deaths in the state, reportedly due to police firing and the excessive use of force, which, they believe, is largely targeted at one community.

"...Media reports refer to 18 deaths in UP, mostly due to bullet injuries...There is reason to believe that the procedure was not followed," the letter stated, adding that the administration was not following prescribed standard operating procedures while dealing with protests.

"We condemn the killings, and call for justice for all victims immediately," the appeal read out by Bhasker and Ayyub said. While Bhasker read out the appeal in English, Ayyub did so in Hindi.

More than 1,100 people are under arrest and 5,558 kept in preventive detention following violence related to the anti-citizenship amendment act protests, police officials in Lucknow told PTI on Thursday, putting the death toll in police clashes across the state at 19.

The letter also criticised the political leadership and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath for issuing "inflammatory statements and using rhetoric that goes beyond the law, which has given way for the police to unleash excessive force on citizens and deliberately damage citizen property in a selective manner".

"Senior police personnel, too, have followed suit and have been heard ordering their units to 'shoot the protesters' and extremely provocative and abusive language has been used against citizens, particularly the minority community," it stated.

The internet shutdown in many parts of the state is yet another instance of the trampling of a fundamental right and grave inconvenience has been caused to the affected citizens, it added.

Responding to a question on why Bollywood biggies like the Khans were silent on the protests, Ayub said the query itself belittled the lakhs of people who are on the roads and protesting.

"Bollywood is not important. There are bigger questions in front of the country. It's not about who is speaking and not speaking but what is being said and how it should be resolved," he said.

"Bollywood does not run the country," Bhasker added.

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Updated Date: Dec 26, 2019 19:53:03 IST