On Monday, 54-year-old Safiya stepped into the Mangaluru North Police Station.
She looked perplexed as she was visiting a police station for the first time in her life. A few minutes later, a police officer started questioning her. He asked Safiya the reason for visiting Mangaluru on the day of anti-CAA protests in Mangaluru on December 19, 2019.
“I told them that I came to the city with my husband, who is a fish trader. We heard the commotion in the late afternoon, and we left the place immediately. We don’t know what happened after that,” said Safiya, a beedi worker in Chattipadapu village at Manjeshwar in Kasaragod in Kerala, which lies 30-km from Mangaluru.
Safiya was one among the 600 people living near the Karnataka-Kerala border who were summoned for questioning by the Mangaluru City Police. The list includes senior citizens, students, shopkeepers, beedi workers and housewives.
The summons, served under Section 41 A of the Criminal Procedure Code by the City Crime Record Bureau (CCRB), asked them to appear at the Mangaluru North Police Station at 10am on January 20. It informed them that they had assembled unlawfully and rioted in Mangaluru on December 19. “We received information from credible sources that you had unlawfully assembled and rioted with an intention to disrupt the public order,” read the notice.
The notice warned of legal actions if the recipients failed to turn up. “If you failed to appear, we would assume that you would continue to engage in similar unlawful activities. Your absence would lead to further legal actions,” it said.
Mangaluru City Police Commissioner PS Harsha said the summons have been issued after one month's meticulous investigation. “The notice has been issued to people, seeking their co-operation with the police probe,” he said.
Two people died in police firing against the anti-CAA protests in Mangaluru on December 19.
Safiya said the official (she doesn’t remember his name) spoke to her politely, but she was not comfortable with the environment at the police station. “Eventually, the same official told me that we could go home and there was no need to worry,” she said.
But she rued the fact she and her husband lost one day's wage on Monday. “We have to deal with the losses by ourselves,” Safiya said.
'Police want to prove their theory'
Blaming the police action, Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), the youth wing of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), said the police have been trying to prove their theory that Muslims and Keralites were behind the December 19 incident.
A week after the firing, Karnataka Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai had said that the violence during the protests were 'pre-planned' and that people from neighbouring Kerala were involved in it.
The organisation's state president Muneer Kattippalla said senior citizens, patients who visited Wenlock and Lady Goshen hospitals and Muslims around Talapaddy, Manjeshwar and Uppala received the notice.
“The police could not find any credible evidence against Muslims. Now they are harassing innocent people from Kerala to prove that they had involved in violence,” he said.