Detained by Cops For Ferrying Migrants: Beach Crusader Afroz Shah
“This is sheer harassment and torture,” says Afroz Shah narrating the ordeal.
Mumbai Beach clean-up crusader, Afroz Shah was allegedly detained by the Mumbai police for two hours on 19 May night. Shah was allegedly detained for helping ferry migrant workers around Mulund. Afroz Shah took to Twitter to vent out his frustration over the ordeal.
Afroz added that after the trauma at the hands of the Tilak Nagar police station, he would not be able to provide food to some of the injured and sick people he was helping out.
For over six weeks now, Afroz Shah has been helping provide food for migrants walking along the Thane-Nashik highway and also dropping them a few kilometres closer to their destination on his tempo truck. At around 11 pm on 19 May too, Afroz was doing the same. While returning from the highway via Mulund, Afroz spotted a group of 20-25 migrants walking on the roads.
“They told me that they are going to Ghatkopar and were walking there. It was in the dead of the night at about 11:45 pm, there was no transport and they told me that they had a pass. I told them that I would take them in groups. So, I put the first group in the tempo and told them that I would drop them. I told the others to keep walking and that I would make another trip back for them,” he said.
During the first trip, the police allegedly stopped Afroz’s vehicle at Ghatkopar East.
“Two constables were very abusive. As a lawyer myself, I requested them but they told me that they would teach me a lesson. I asked them what was wrong. Why were they being abusive? They wouldn’t listen. Another inspector arrived and he too was aggressive. They took me and the other migrants as well, to the police station.”Afroz Shah
Afroz was also allegedly carrying a travel pass issued by the Mumbai police. At the police station, he was detained and after about two hours, was asked to leave. The detained migrants were also allegedly let off at the same time. “I asked them to register an FIR if I had committed an offence and let me go before the judge.”
Afroz and another fellow volunteer were then taken back to the spot where they were stopped by the police. “This is sheer harassment and torture. I am broken now from the inside. I have suspended all the work, the 10 kitchens, caring for people that I was doing,” he said.
“My mother gets worried. Is going out at this time in the midst of the coronavirus easy? I have been going out for the last 60 days. My mother says, ‘Afroz, you will kill yourself’, I said I am a citizen of this country. I have stood for mother nature all my life and now I will stand with them (migrants). They need our help. There’s no food, no water, walking thousands of kilometres.”Afroz Shah
The Quint has reached out to Mumbai police for a comment on these allegations, this story will be updated once they respond to the queries.
Afroz Shah was awarded UN Environment’s Champion of the Earth award in 2016 for leading efforts to clean up Versova beach.
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