New Delhi: Retired Indian Police Services officer S.R. Darapuri is one among citizens protesters who were arrested on October 11 for protesting at a Commissioner’s office in Uttar Pradesh’s Gorakhpur district with the demand that Dalit families in the state get an acre of land each, Indian Express has reported.
Darapuri, 79 years, has been a noted critic of the government and an activist. Two days down, it is unclear if he and the others who were held have been released yet.
Gorakhpur police have claimed (speaking to the media) that the protest on October 10 was in violation of the Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure in place there at the time. Police have also claimed the protesters engaged in vandalism.
“I came yesterday to attend the public meeting organised by the Gorakhpur Ambedkar Jan Morcha regarding issues of Dalit communities and civil rights and the meeting was concluded peacefully. This morning Gorakhpur police came to take me to the police station,” Darapuri wrote on Facebook on October 11.
The others include a French national, one Valentine Jean, who is identified by the newspaper as a research scholar working on poverty in India. Circle Officer (Cantonment) Manush Pareek is quoted by Express as having said that Jean was held under the Foreigners Act because he had given an incorrect address on his visa application – in Dhanbad of Jharkhand.
The others arrested are Shravan Kumar Nirala (50), Rishi Kapoor Anand (32), Jai Bheem Prakash (41), Neelam Baudh (38) and Ramu Siddharth (50), according to the report. Darapuri’s son Ved Prakash has told Express that he is suffering from Parkinson’s disease and other ailments.
Darapuri had been among the 28 people who the Uttar Pradesh government had asked to pay more than Rs 63 lakh in 2020 with the claim that damage was done to public and government properties during the anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) protests at Lucknow in 2019. During these protests, too, he had been arrested and later released on bail.