Lucknow: A group of social activists campaigning for the ‘Right to Public Health’ was attacked in Lucknow on Monday by a mob of miscreants, allegedly sympathisers of the ruling dispensation.
Naujawan Bharat Sabha and Stri Mukti League jointly launched a statewide campaign – ‘Right to Public Health’ – for demanding nationalisation of health services as well as food and shelter for the poor during the entire lockdown.
On Monday morning, three social activists, including a woman, were pasting posters and distributing pamphlets about their mission in the Hasanganj locality.
When social activists Anupam, Avinash and Rupa were distributing pamphlets, some locals allegedly tried to stop them. They not only accused them of misleading the public, but also charged them with putting up “pro-Muslim” posters near a temple.
The activists apprised the locals about their mission and substantiated their claim by showing their pamphlets which were clearly in public interest. Even after that the locals began to label them as ‘urban naxals’.
When the social activists sought to refute their baseless charge, the mob turned violent and started beating them up. The lone woman activist alleged that a man from the mob twisted her hand and used foul language against her.
Around that time, the police came and detained all the three activists. Meanwhile, a group of left-wing activists sprung up in support of the three social activists, seeking their immediate release from police custody.
The activists were taken to Hasanganj police post where they were interrogated for nearly three hours.
Some local lawyers also stepped in support of the social activists, following which the police was compelled to let them off. However, the police denied any assault on the social workers.
On being asked why the social activists were detained for so long, the Hasanganj police station house officer, Yashkant Singh, told The Wire, “We arrested three activists from Panna Lal Road for violating lockdown protocols and pasting posters illegally.”
The Wire talked to all the three activists about the incident. Anupam alleged that the mob were sympathisers of the right wing as they were annoyed with our questioning on mishandling of the COVID-19 situation and the devastating condition of rural areas by the Bharatiya Janata Party government.
He further said, “They beat us as we were pasting posters featuring shortage of oxygen.” He added that the mob also tried to turn the public interest issue into a communal issue.
Avinash told The Wire, “The mob was saying that everything is fine in the country, and there is no shortage of anything, neither in the country nor in the state. You people are falsely defaming Modi and Yogi government.”
He added, “While they were kicking us, they were calling us ‘urban naxals’.” The local woman corporator was also allegedly a part of the mob who was provoking them for violence by calling the activists “anti-Modi-Yogi people”.
While sharing her ordeal, Rupa told The Wire, “The men abused us for distributing pamphlets on public health, as according to them, there was no shortage of oxygen and beds in hospitals.”
She further alleged that a man twisted her hand while snatching pamphlets from her. Despite this, she chose to stick to her guns, and said that her demand for food and shelter for the poor during the lockdown would not be withdrawn.
Rupa said she has sent an email to the top police officers for registering a first information report against the miscreants. However, the police said no FIR was registered against anyone so far in this incident.