Banne Khan will need to rise from his grave and apply for bail to prove that he is not a threat to peace in Firozabad, a western Uttar Pradesh district.
“My father, who died six years ago, has been booked under Sections 107 and 116 of the Code of Criminal Procedure because the police believe he is likely to disturb public tranquillity,” said Banne’s son Mohammad Sarfaraz Khan.
A police team had visited Sarfaraz’s home in Baze Wali Gali, Firozabad city, on Monday and handed him a notice.
“They said my father must appear before a magistrate and apply for bail within seven days, else he would be arrested. They scolded me when I showed them his death certificate,” Sarfaraz said.
The government move is aimed at pre-empting further anti-citizenship-act protests, which have witnessed violence in many parts of Uttar Pradesh. Under these CrPC sections, potential troublemakers have to seek bail against a personal bond, making themselves liable to pay huge fines in case of violation.
Banne can afford to ignore the notice from his eternal sanctuary but 93-year-old Fasahat Meer Khan of Kotla Mohalla and 90-year-old Sufi Ansar Hussain of Kotla Pathanan cannot. For these Firozabad elders, who cannot even walk without help, the threat of arrest is real.
Hussain has been secretary of Firozabad’s Jama Masjid for the past 58 years and is a well-known social worker.
“You ask anyone in Firozabad, Hindu or Muslim, and they will tell you how I have averted communal clashes single-handedly. Today, I feel my entire life has been a waste,” he said.
“I must ask my children to take me to the magistrate soon so I can apply for bail. I don’t expect anything from this system.”
Hussain’s seven-day deadline expires on Thursday, while Fasahat’s already passed on Wednesday, though he has not been arrested.
Mohammad Tahir, 60-year-old son of Fasahat, said: “Two policemen visited our home on December 23 and asked me about my father. I took them inside the house, near my father’s bed. They called someone over the phone and said, ‘Fasahat is a very old man’. Then they left. Two other policemen came on December 25 and plastered a notice against my father.”
The police identify potential troublemakers on the basis of intelligence, mostly provided by beat constables.
City magistrate Kunwar Pankaj Singh told reporters: “There was tremendous pressure on us after violence erupted in Firozabad on December 20. We may remove the names of those wrongly listed under Sections 107 and 116.”