‘RSS, BJP conspired to turn peaceful protests violent in UP’

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NEW DELHI: Addressing a press conference in the national capital on Tuesday after his release from the Lucknow district prison, senior lawyer and president of the Rihai Manch, Mohammad Shoaib alleged that peaceful agitations against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) on December 19, 2019, were disrupted by RSS and BJP members and turned violent. “We have reason to believe that it was a well thought out conspiracy,” Shoaib added. Advocate Shoaib, who was granted bail by a Lucknow court last week, stepped out of jail after almost a month on Sunday. He has been charged in connection with violence in the state capital during the anti-CAA and NRC protests on December 19. According to a report in media, he was one of over 1,240 persons arrested by the police over violence during protests in Uttar Pradesh. Speaking to the media, he said, “I was also arrested during the Emergency and back then I was hailed as a freedom fighter but today I am portrayed as a rioter and conspirator.” He also alleged that, at the behest of the administration and the political class, newspapers were also regularly publishing false news to discredit the work done by the Manch and its members. Apart from Shoaib, another prominent member of the Manch, Robin Verma was arrested and put in jail for several weeks. According to a press statement by the Manch, Robin was badly beaten up while in custody and was repeatedly interrogated about the whereabouts of Rajeev Yadav, the general secretary of Rihai Manch. “The Circle Office (Police) abused him and his family members and threatened them with cases so their lives would be ruined forever. The way the police was calling out these people shows that the police is hell-bent on targeting individuals who would advocate for the rights and welfare of the common people,” read the statement explaining the ordeal faced by Verma and his family. Addressing media persons, Yadav alleged that the Yogi Adityanath-led government was trying to dodge any accountability by falsely prosecuting innocent people. “Profiling of people through their protest expressed on social media and the online activities, even those who had just submitted memorandums opposing the CAA and NRC were interrogated as if they are conspirators behind the violence,” he added.