It happened on the night of 4 February 2020, more than a hundred women assembled at the Maulana Ali Jauhar Park in Bilariaganj, Azamgarh in Utter Pradesh for a peaceful protest against the CAA and NRC.
The women were offering Namaz at the site.
At around 4 am on 5 February, Azamgarh police came with orders to disperse the protests. Protesters including mostly women and children had been injured in a brutal police attack. The policemen swooped on the protesting women with a lathi charge that has left several injured with broken bones and wounds.
Sarvari Bano, a 65-year-old woman was in ICU with serious head injuries.
According to eyewitnesses, police also pelted bricks at the women.
“The police surrounded the park from all sides at around 4 am and beat the boys and men who were standing nearby,” a woman protester told Maktoob.
“All through this, policemen used anti-Muslim slurs and all kinds of abuses,” she added.
During the course of action, Azamgarh MLA and Samajwadi Party leader Nafees Ahmad and Rashtriya Ulama Council General Secretary Tahir Madni reached the protest site. Police detained both of them. Later Ahmad was released.
On 6 February 2020, police booked Madani and 134 anti-CAA protesters under various sections of IPC including the charge 124 A (Sedition), 153 A (promoting enmity), violating prohibitory orders, 332 (Voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty), 186 (Obstructing public servant).
“The FIR has been registered against 35 named and over 100 unidentified persons involved in anti-CAA protests on 4 February near Jauhar park in Bilariaganj area. Of them 20 have been arrested on 6 February,” Superintendent of Police, Triveni Singh, said.
Madani’s lawyer Talha Amir claimed that Madani was pressurized to stop the protests and threatened with dire consequences.
“The police and district administration had called Madani to the site for convincing the protesters to wind up the protest. Madani is a respected personality in the area. But the same police arrested him,” he said.
On the same day, Samajwadi Party chief and Lok Sabha MP from Azamgarh, Akhilesh Yadav took to twitter to condemn the police action on the protesters.
On 12 February, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi visited the protest site to meet the families of those who have been arrested.
On 17 February, a delegation of Muslim leaders met Madani in Azamgarh Jail and expressed dismay at the strange manner in which the UP police is operating against those who protest against the CAA.
“We met Maulana Tahir Madani and about 18 others who have been arrested by the UP Police and lodged in the Azamgarh Jail. We expressed our solidarity and support to them,” National Secretary, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, Malik Mohtasim Khan said.
On 15 April, the Students Islamic Organization of India (SIO) conducted an online campaign on twitter with the hashtag #ReleaseTahirMadani.
Azamgarh police told a news agency that the Bilariaganj’s women sit-in against the CAA was led by Tahir Madani.
Tahir Madani, a renowned Islamic scholar from Azamgarh, is the founding general secretary of Rashtriya Ulama Council (RUC), a political party formed in 2008.
“We have one-point agenda that is to establish justice for all. We believe that with exception of few who have power and captured every thing, most of people either Muslims or Hindu all are victims of injustice. After visiting different areas, we realized that people of all religions and castes are looking for a party which can do justice with all and bring development to all,” Tahir Madani, founder of Rashtriya Ulama Council said in an interview with Two Circles.net in 2012.
Madani served as the director of Madrasa Jamiatul Falah in Azamgarh, founded in 1962.
“The Constitution is the foundation of our country. Our unity and strength depends on it,” Madani said in a video message to Karwan e Mohabbat, an NGO based in Delhi regarding the protests against ‘unconstitutional’ citizenship law.
Politics for justice; Rashtriya Ulama Council
Rashtriya Ulama Council came into existence in October 2008 and was originally called the Ulama Council. It began as a protest group after an extra-judicial killing of two Muslim youths from Azamgarh in Batla House in South Delhi. It was the initiative of Maulana Aamir Rashadi Madni and Maulana Tahir Madni, calling a meeting of Islamic scholars in Uttar Pradesh, in particular regions of Azamgarh and nearby areas.
Ulama Council had booked a train on 29 January 2009 and took thousands of Muslim youths from the areas of Azamgarh, Jaunpur, Faizabad, Lucknow, Aligarh, Bijnour and Delhi to protest against the UPA government and the leaders of the party, Rashadi Madni and Tahir Madni had demanded a judicial probe into the killings of two Muslim youths.
Ulama Council has been raising questions on the authenticity of the notorious ‘encounter’. They organize protests every year on 19th September, demanding a judicial investigation into this case.
Ulama Council is pursuing the Batla House case through the legal means also.
They participated in the 2009 parliamentary elections on 5 seats and the five month old party secured more than 225,000 votes.
In the Uttar Pradesh 2012 Assembly election, Ulama Council had contested 100 seats and secured nearly 600,000 votes.