2022 Kanpur Violence: Bail secured, but families too poor to pay Rs 6 lakh sureties


A painter, a meat scrap seller, a tailor and a garment shop worker. The men — Naseem Ahmad, Mehtab, Imran and Arshad — are among those who were granted bail by the Allahabad High Court in last year’s Kanpur violence case, in which 61 people were named accused. While many of the accused walked out on bail, at least four of them continue to languish in jail as the families are too poor to afford the two sureties, amounting to Rs 6 lakh — Rs 1 lakh in each of the three cases in which they are booked.

Violence had broken out in Kanpur on June 3 last year over remarks made by former BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma related to Prophet Muhammad.

Kanpur DCP (Central) Pramod Kumar, said, “The chargesheet in the three cases have been filed. All the accused persons were arrested based on evidence.”

In Kanpur’s Beconganj, Yasmin Ahmad, 35, works as a domestic help. Her husband, Naseem, was granted bail on November 2 last year. The family has already spent Rs 1.5 lakh applying for bail in the High Court. “You can see how we live. How can we arrange bonds worth Rs 6 lakh? We don’t have anything at all. None of our relatives or the people we know are rich enough to have such kind of money,” says Yasmin, who married Naseem 12 years ago.
Justice Suresh Kumar Gupta of the High Court, while granting bail to Naseem, took into account that Naseem had no criminal history. Naseem’s family says he had nothing to do with the protest or violence and claims that he was falsely implicated. “We don’t think he will get released. Every time, we see him in court during the hearings, he says ‘Ammi, kuch kariye’ (Mother, please do something). I feel helpless,” says Naseem’s mother Zaigun Nisha.

The family of Mehtab, 50, a resident of Talwa Mandi in the city, is “waiting for a miracle”. His wife Farida, 37, had sold their two-room pucca house in the slum for Rs 4 lakh to pay the legal fees. “We now live in a rented house and pay Rs 2,500 a month as rent. I work at people’s houses to sustain the family. What other work can an illiterate woman like me do?” says Farida.

The couple have two children, aged 8 and 5. Before his arrest, Mehtab sold meat scraps and earned approximately Rs 300 a day. “We just had enough to survive; now, we have nothing,” says Farida.
Farida, however, maintains that Mehtab is innocent.

Around 2 km from Mehtab’s house, Munnawar Jahaan too has also lost hope that her son Imran, 40, will be released. She lives in Gora Kabristan, a slum where most residents work as scrap dealers.
Imran worked as a tailor – just like his father Nisar who died a month before the June 3 violence, following prolonged illness. Imran’s sewing machine rests against the house’s blue walls, unused for over a year, ever since he went to jail.

“I have spent Rs 40,000 so far on legal fees. Some neighbours and affluent people we know helped us with the legal fees. We are now drowning in debt. Where will I find people who can give sureties to the court?” asks Jahaan, 72.

Arshad, 32, who worked as a daily wager at a garment shop in Kanpur’s Readymade Market, too, is languishing in jail despite the Allahabad High Court granting him bail in February 2023 in the three cases he was booked in.
The family cannot find people who can give sureties worth Rs 6 lakh. “We asked around. We asked many people, but now, it seems futile. No one has cars or properties. Everyone we know is barely surviving,” Arshad’s mother Ashiya, 58, says.

Ashiya says she suffers from hypertension and that her husband Shameem, 64, has a lung infection and an ailment in one of his legs. After Arshad’s arrest last year, the family moved to a cheaper house in Kanpur’s Shuklaganj area. Shameem has taken up a job as a guard and makes Rs 200 per day. “He can barely walk. But what option do we have?,” said Ashiya, crying over the phone.


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