On 2 October, Asad Rizvi, a Lucknow-based freelance journalist, filed a police complaint stating that policemen beat him up that day, unprovoked and while he was on an assignment. Rizvi said he was reporting from an important protest site in Lucknow, which features a prominent statue of MK Gandhi, when policemen asked him to stop, assaulted him. He said the police then confiscated his memory card with footage of the violence. Eighteen days earlier, reports emerged that a 19-year-old Dalit woman had been raped in Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras district by four dominant-caste Thakur youth. Following her death on 29 September, widespread protests broke out across Uttar Pradesh, many of which were heavily restricted by the police. Rizvi was reporting about how the police had sealed central protest sites in Lucknow, including the Gandhi statue.
Rizvi has fifteen years of experience in journalism and has covered a range of issues from Uttar Pradesh. His work has been published in several media outlets, including The Wire, NewsClick and The Caravan. In a conversation with Amrita Singh, an editorial fellow at The Caravan, he recounted the attack and spoke about what it means to be a journalist under the administration of Ajay Singh Bisht, the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, popularly known as Adityanath. “What would they do to a journalist in Bahraich, in Unnao, in Jaunpur?” Rizvi asked. “They would shoot him, and say, ‘He was a criminal.’”
On 2 October, which is the birth anniversary of Gandhi, my camera-person and I went to the statue to shoot a video story. We wanted to report about how the prime areas of Lucknow, including the Gandhi statue—a place where protests commonly occur—had been sealed by the police to stop protests about the Hathras case and groups who wanted to pay their respects at the statue.