On 27 July, BJP president Amit Shah was in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, to assess preparations for the 2019 Kumbh Mela and meet sadhus in the city. While returning to the airport, his convoy was stopped by three student protestors. The students—Neha Yadav, Rama Yadav and Kishan Maurya—jumped in front of the moving convoy, waved black flags at a police car that was part of the cavalcade, and chanted slogans asking Shah to “go back.” A video clip of the protest, which was widely circulated on social media, shows the police immediately dragging the women away and beating one of them with a baton. The students were arrested, sent to 14 days in judicial custody, but released on bail three days later. All are members of the Samajwadi Party’s student wing.
In an interview in Delhi, Sagar, a staff writer at The Caravan, spoke to Neha Yadav about the reasons for her protest, what she faced after the incident, and the allegations that she had chanted “anti-national” slogans. Yadav is a 24-year-old student currently pursuing a PhD in nutritional science at the Allahabad University.“The police’s aim was to beat us so much that we feel scared to talk against the government again,” she said. “We were beaten because of Amit Shah’s orders.”
Sagar: Tell us a little about yourself.
Neha Yadav: My hometown is Bareilly. My mother is the pradhan of a small village in Uttar Pradesh called Ooncha. My father was a government servant and is retired now. In 2016, I graduated from Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, with a master’s degree in food and nutrition. After that, I had a year-long research fellowship in BHU’s ayurveda department. I also topped the qualifying exams for a PhD in Allahabad University, which I started in 2017.
S: How did you manage to stop Amit Shah’s convoy and what happened after that? How did his security personnel react?