Omar Rashid, the Uttar Pradesh correspondent of The Hindu newspaper, was detained and threatened by the police in Lucknow on Friday evening.
Rashid said he and three friends, two of whom are also journalists, were eating at a dhaba when four unidentified plainclothes policemen walked in and enquired about them in harsh, aggressive language. Rashid immediately showed them his identity card, informing them he was a journalist. They anway took him and one of his friends away. Not a word was said to either of them about why they were being held or where they were being taken in a police vehicle. Instead, their phones were snatched away by the policemen, who also threatened them with “dire consequences” if they informed anyone about their detention.
Rashid and his friend were driven to the Hazratganj police station. While he was questioned about his Kashmiri identity, Rashid said, his friend was brutally beaten up. The policemen threatened him saying they would book him under penal sections if he didn’t keep quiet. “You are a suspect,” the police told him. They also claimed to have evidence that Rashid was involved in the violence that had occurred during protests against the new citizenship law.
The duo were then taken to a police outpost in Sultanpuri. Rashid was asked about the whereabouts of some Kashmiri people he didn’t know. When he said he didn’t know the people, a senior police officer threatened to “set him right”. Rashid was then taken and photographed like a suspect, and given a lecture on the” hypocrisy of Leftist ideology”.
The two-hour ordeal ended when news about their detention reached the Chief Minister’s Office. The policemen who had illegally detained and abused them now apologised saying it had all been a mix-up.