Citizenship Amendment Act protests have become a norm across the country for close to a fortnight now – both in opposition and support. And while most of Bollywood is silent over it, actor Swara Bhasker has come forward and condemned police action against the protestors and civilians alike in several parts of Uttar Pradesh. In a press conference called by the actor along with another actor Zeeshan Ayub, she slammed the UP police and called their modus operandi to control violence “barbaric.”

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Bhasker read out an appeal made by several other film celebrities like Anurag Kashyap, Konkona Sen, Vikramaditya Motwane, Mallika Dua, Kubra Sait, Aparna Sen etc. “We make this appeal as actors who are deeply disturbed by the recent developments related to the protests against the passage of CAA. For all of us, UP is special. Some of us have our family roots there and many of us have worked there in films but for all of us, the ethos of India’s largest state with its rich history of social diversity and distinctive imagery has been special to the imagination of India as depicted in our cinema.

The CAA itself has sparked contrasting views but irrespective of one’s views on the merits of the law. There is something more fundamental that all of us agree on in line with India’s constitutional values. The right of citizens to protest peacefully and the duty of the state to respond proportionately within the framework of law and the ultimate role of the court in determining guilt and punishment. We believe that all these principles have been undermined in UP largely because of the excesses of the government,” she read.

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She pointed out the deaths that have happened during the protests in UP mostly due to bullet firing and condemned the killings. The statement also highlighted the use of abusive language by the law-enforcement agency in UP towards the people belonging to the minority community, beating up of people and detainment of several protestors particularly in Western UP and denounced it by saying, “this is deplorable and unbecoming of a law-enforcing agency.”

“There is something more fundamental that all of us agree on in line with India’s constitutional values. The right of citizens to protest peacefully and the duty of the state to respond proportionately within the framework of law and the ultimate role of the court in determining guilt and punishment. We believe that all these principles have been undermined in UP largely because of the excesses of the government”

Bhasker also condemned the stone-pelting that happened in UP which instigated police violence but she also added that stone-pelters should have been controlled lawfully and not through a feeling of revenge which has been predominantly evident in their action. “The barbaric actions of the UP police has been recorded and documented in videos from UP while there is still no knowledge of who the stone-pelters were. We have also seen videos of police entering houses, beating up people and damaging people’s personal property. And I believe that in any society, the law has to be more responsible. There needs to a difference between rioters and police.”  Both Bhasker and Ayub have also urged for a judicial probe into the violence that broke down in Uttar Pradesh against the CAA protests.

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