AAP Abandoned Us: Men Arrested by Delhi Police for Anti-PM Posters
“AAP is the one who got us into this mess, they should be the one who gets us out of it.,” the man said.
Illustration: Aroop Mishra
“AAP is the one who got us into this mess, they should be the one to get us out of it. Since the arrest by Delhi Police, they have not paid us, asked us how we are doing, or offered any legal support.”
These are the words of three of the over twenty men, who were arrested by Delhi Police on 14 May for putting up posters critical of PM Modi on the behest of the Aam Aadmi Party. The posters read, “Modiji, why did you export the vaccines that were meant for our kids.”
It’s been days since their arrest and subsequent bail, but all three The Quint traced in northwest Delhi said they feel upset, angry and scared that they’ve been caught in a legal and political dispute while being left to take care of themselves.
We spoke to 32-year-old Anil Kumar alias Babu who lost his battery van, 42-year-old Rajesh Sharma who feels he might also lose the job he has, and 26-year-old Rahul who says his future prospects could have been destroyed.
While Babu had the battery van used to transport the banners, Sharma had got the banners printed and Rahul was the one who was given the order by AAP leader and President of ward 47 Arvind Gautam.
All three yet to get a copy of the FIR where they have been booked under Sections 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), and 269 (negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) of the Indian Penal Code and those under the Delhi Prevention of Defacement of Property Act and Epidemic Act.
The Quint reached out to AAP spokespersons who did not respond to our queries. The copy will be updated as and when they respond.
Anil Kumar: ‘Desperately Needed the Money, Already Didn’t Have Enough to Feed Kids’
32-year-old Babu, who lives in Sultanpuri area and drives a battery van, said it was his desperate need for money that drove him to take the job. “I was on my way with the black banners at the back, when the police stopped me on the morning of 14 May. The day and everything after has been hell for me,” Babu breaks down while speaking.
“They said I will get Rs 1,250 for the job. With there being now work during the lockdown, I thought I would use the money to get food for my two sons, wife and parents. I did what I had to but was never paid what was promised. Above that they took my only source of income away,” Babu, who lives in two small rooms with his family, said.
“I keep going back to Mongolpuri police station to beg the police to return it, the last time I went they moved it elsewhere. I should at least be able to see it and ensure it is in one piece right? When I ask the police for it, they say only the courts can give it. I do not have the money for all of this.”Anil Kumar
Through his battery van he would sometimes take people for grocery shopping and earn Rs 60 to Rs 70 a day. That would suffice to ensure his youngest son would get milk. “I have to show my face to my wife and kids. It is hard.”
Even before his arrest, Babu did not make enough money to feed his family. “Every single day I would go outside Ambedkar hospital and stand in a line to get enough food to last two meals for my family. I would reach hours earlier, so I would make the cut,” he says.
Helpless under the circumstances, Babu feels that while AAP leaders have taken responsibility for posting the contentious banners, not one person has shown support. “AAP se kissi ne phone nahi kiya, meri help ya support nahi ki. Ye bhi nahi poocha ki kaise ghar chal raha hai. Sab peeche hat gaye hai. (No one from AAP called me to offer help or support. No one has even called to ask how I am doing. Everyone has distanced themselves.”)
His felt even more betrayed when on 16 May when the police was looking for AAP leader Arvind Gautam, at least 70 people showed up to the police station in support of Gautam. “All of AAP was there to protest his arrest. This included AAP Sultanpur Majra MLA Mukhesh Kumar Ahlawat and his sister. What happened when I, a poor person, was picked up for doing my job? In logon ne socha hi nahi mere baarein mein (These people did not think about me at all).”
Rajat Sharma: “My Husband Is a Simple and Innocent Man’
“Politicians have done this, not my husband,” Rajesh Sharma’s wife, 40-year-old Renu, tells this reporter from their dilapidated one room home in Mongolpuri area.
She says 42-year-old Rajesh Sharma remains stressed and anxious. “We have a flex machine that he bought second hand after taking a loan of Rs 5 lakh. We have to pay a few thousands every month on that loan, above that we have to pay Rs 3,000 rent for this place. Since the printing was not getting us enough money, he had started delivering groceries.”
Rajesh told us that he even lost this job after a few days, “They said I need to pay them money to keep the job. I could not afford to.”
It was while Rajesh was stressed about his parents who tested positive for COVID, trying to make money for their proper care, that the police came and picked him up from his residence on the morning of 14 May.
“My elder son (15) is handicapped and barely goes to school. My younger daughter (12) goes to school in EWS category. We live in a colony that looks like it will implode any time. He did this for the money, for us, for his family,” Renu said, sobbing. “He also had a clot in his brain a few years ago. The doctor had told him not to take stress. I am worried for my husband’s life. Before the arrest, he spent his time outside trying to find work. How will we survive?”
Her neighbours have been telling her how Sections of sedition and the anti-terror law UAPA could also be added against her husband. “He is the only one in this home who makes money. It is hurtful that politicians are making these statements to the media and on Twitter but no one has come to show us real support. What is the use of such politicians?” Renu asked.
Rajesh spends his time keeping to himself.
“They took the keys to his machine shop away. This is our source of livelihood. He only did this as there is no work, no money. But husband is a simple innocent man,” Renu says.
Rahul: ‘I Have Proof AAP Leaders Gave Me The Order’
“Gareeb ko duniya dabaati hai, paise walo ko dabakar dikhao pehle (The world puts down those who are poor, let them try and do this with those who have money),” 26-year-old Rahul, who owned a graphic design shop till a few months ago, said.
He says he bought the second hand machine for Rs 4.5 lakh two years ago, and sold it off for Rs 1.3 lakh in March earlier this year. “Ever since last year’s lockdown the work had also reduced, so we decided to sell the machine off as we could not afford it anymore.”
Like Anil Kumar and Rajesh Sharma, he too was picked up by the police on 14 May morning.
“We are a family of 11 people with not one person with a job since lockdown. I was told I would get Rs 1500 for the job and agreed so we do not need to keep dipping into our savings,” Rahul said. He got married recently but is worried that this news about his arrest could mess his equations up with his in-laws. “What if my wedding was to happen only a few months later? Then it would have got cancelled,” he said.
“I have all the proofs to show AAP leaders called me and placed the order. They are the government in power, who would think that something like this could happen. AAP got us into this, AAP must get us out of it. Where are they?” Rahul asked.
He and his family are angry that the police arrested poor people who had nothing to do with the banners. “The police should have done their investigation first. They took our belongings, phone, my scootie away for no reason. They should find and arrest the bigger fish, why go after us? We are not criminals or repeat offenders. They have ruined our lives overnight and are not around anywhere anymore,” he said.
Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.