How were the lawyers formed?

A few minutes after the police prepare to stop the protesters, a call is sent to social networks - lawyers are needed - with the location and details, and sometimes only the name of the city. Like when anti-CAA kollam activist in Chennai, Gayatri Khandhadhai, was arrested a few days ago. The text simply read: You need a lawyer in Chennai.

A resistance code protocol has taken shape since the 15 police actions at the Jamia Millia Islamia University in Delhi that mainly threw university students, all born in the 1990s, into a dizzying world of posters, slogans and protests.

Not only from protest sites, calls for legal assistance are also made from sites of origin, such as when Surya Rajappan called her lawyer friends. Surya closed the door of his house with three locks to prevent a crowd from breaking into his third-floor apartment in a colony in southern Delhi after protesting against CAA during the Interior Ministry Amit Shah Campaign in the area on the subject.

I was scared, Rajappan said, but my legal brain was working. In less than an hour, he said, 15 lawyers were on the road outside his apartment. But they could not enter because their landlord, who had been part of the mafia, closed the entrance on the ground floor. The lawyers did not move.

This incredible group of lawyers has been working for detainees 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, said Rajappan, who did not expect her to call them for their own help. The lax network that Rajappan referred to is known as Lawyers for detainees. The night of the Jamia incident on December 15, when the students were being held at several police stations, some seriously injured, the lawyers quickly came to help.

“The police have to release them or arrest them. It is that intermediate period when detainees need help. Once arrested, the protocol should take effect, but detainees can be trapped in a gray area, said a lawyer, who arrived at Daryaganj Kotwali in Delhi around 7 pm on December 20, responding to an emergency message later. that a protest turned violent.

Stones, poorly combined slippers, blood stains greeted another lawyer, Samir, outside the Daryaganj police station at dusk. No one knew how many detainees were inside, but there were about 50 lawyers outside Thana's closed doors, insisting that they be allowed to enter. The lawyers refused to move until the police let them in. They then helped release the detainees and processed documents for bail of the detainees.

As it became clear that the protests would continue, as the arrests, more and more lawyers participated, dividing into groups to visit different police stations and obtaining orders to release local magistrates in the dark of the night.

Attorney Mishika Singh has been flooded with messages of support. She had begun the journey to gather lawyers with an initial list of 11 legal professionals willing to work pro bono for detainees. As the protests intensified, Singh published online lawyer contacts, along with five tips on what to remember when they were arrested. His message, written with a sense of urgency, quickly went viral. Protesters shared it widely, such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, personal chats and sent transmissions to closed online groups.

“We had lawyers on the ground with reports of arrests everywhere. Having legal representatives at each protest site helped us galvanize our resources judiciously, ”said Singh, who has been coordinating between states while lawyers form research teams to investigate violence reported from Karnataka, Bihar, UP and Delhi, among other places. Singh publishes the location and contacts of lawyers so that protesters from all states have access to legal representation.

With internet down in UP, the lists could not help in the days following the violence at Aligarh Muslim University. Lawyers went offline, forming small groups. Kamran, a lawyer from , now coordinates with Singh to accelerate justice for those “randomly” picked up. “There is a lot of unrest among the community in Muzaffarnagar. Many young men were picked up from markets and roads,” he said. Kamran said about 200 people were detained between December 20 and December 23.

Lawyers who visited Bihar’s Aurangabad and wrote a report on the violence of December 21. “It was important to network and be at the scene. We made a group of 40 lawyers to provide legal aid to those detained. Being online helps translate anger into action in real time,” said Talib Mustafa, a lawyer from Patna who is also coordinating with others in Delhi.

Some names changed to protect identity.