Activist Robin Verma narrates his ordeal after his release from the Lucknow district jail

“You are a Hindu, why are you friends with Muslims.” This is what the Uttar Pradesh police allegedly told Robin Verma, an activist and teacher, who was arrested in connection with the protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) in Lucknow on December 20, 2019. Released from the Lucknow district jail on Tuesday after being granted bail last week, Mr. Verma narrated his ordeal to The Hindu and alleged that police physically tortured and insulted him and even threatened to degrade his wife and infant daughter. Mr. Verma said police scanned his phone, which is still in their custody along with his driver’s licence, and insulted him for having Muslims on his contact list and Whatsapp chats. “A [Muslim] student of mine had wished me on my birthday. They saw the message and asked me why do you know him. Why do you have Muslim names on your phone list. Why are you friends with them? Why do you go with them,” Mr. Verma said. He alleged the police made degrading remarks about his wife and two-year-old daughter. “Bitha denge kahin, dhande mein laga denge, they said about my wife (We will make your wife a prostitute, we will place her somewhere),” the police allegedly told Mr. Verma. “They would do the same with my two-year-old daughter. The said they would ruin me and my family.” Mr. Verma was picked up plainclothes policemen along with this reporter from a restaurant in Hazratganj in the State capital on December 20 around 6.45 p.m., a day after violence during protests against the CAA here. Kicked and punched He alleged he was first taken to the Hazratganj police station and beaten up, before being thrashed twice at the Sultanganj police outpost and once again at the Hazratganj police station. “They kicked me, punched me, hit me with lathis, slapped me, beat me with a thick leather belt and also plucked out my hair,” said Mr. Verma. His finger was injured during the torture. “All those who beat me were in plainclothes,” he said. Mr. Verma was not named in the FIR lodged at Hazratganj police station but later booked under the same charges, including rioting, attempt to murder, criminal conspiracy and damage to public property. He rejected the police charge. “I did nothing wrong. If opposing a law is wrong, and if that law is unconstitutional and oppresses the poor people of the country, I was only opposing that,” he said. Mr. Verma said the police denied him a blanket, food and water during his detention at the Hazratganj police station and abused him when he asked them to inform his family about his whereabouts. He, however, was relieved to get bail. “I have faith in the judiciary and the constitution,” Mr. Verma said.