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Lawyer helping migrants accuses cops of harassment

Social Issues

Press Trust of India  |  Mumbai 

Lawyer Afroz Shah, whose beach

clean-up initiative has won praise from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, accused the city police on Wednesday of abusing and harassing him for giving lift to a few migrant workers.

He was suspending his work after the bitter experience at Tilak Nagar police station late Tuesday night, he said.

The Mumbai-based lawyer who is known for organizing a drive to keep the Versova beach in the city clean was lauded by Modi in one of his 'Mann Ki Baat' addresses in 2018.

"I have been helping migrant workers, which includes providing them food. I have taken a travel pass from the police to distribute food to migrant workers who are walking towards Nashik from Mumbai," he told PTI.

"I was on my way back from Kasara when I saw a group of migrant workers headed for Byculla railway station at Mulund toll plaza. They asked me for help and I gave them a lift in my vehicle," Shah said.

"Another group requested me to drop them from Byculla railway station to Ghatkopar. But we were stopped at Ghatkopar by local police who accused of me violating lockdown guidelines," he said.

"I was surprised because I had the travel pass and I was simply dropping them at Ghatkopar railway station. They unnecessarily abused me....I told them about my work and showed my identity card but they did not budge," Shah said.

"They took us to Tilak Nagar police station, wasted our time and finally after two hours dropped us at the same spot where they had stopped us.

"It was highly demoralising and depressing," he added.

"I was surprised to find out that despite my credentials and legal pass to travel, they demonstrated utter disregard. I had large vessels in my vehicle to show as proof that I have been distributing food for migrant workers. But they did not believe me and went on abusing," he said.

Shah also tweeted about the experience.

"Harassed for 2 hours by Tilak nagar police. Taken to the police station. Let off by saying please leave. Suspending all my activities to help the poorest of the poor," he said.

"Sorry migrants - the system doesn't allow me to work for you. Broken heart. Broken soul. I cry and I am in pain," he tweeted.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, May 20 2020. 17:42 IST