The Uttar Pradesh police detained Dalit activist Dr. Sushil Gautam and five others in Meerut on Thursday, allegedly for holding a protest without permission.
HuffPost India has learnt that they were later let off by the police.
Speaking to Huffpost India, Gautam said that he was being traced since early Thursday morning, with raids at his home in Meerut at 2 am, 5 am and 9 am. He said he stayed away from his house anticipating detention.
"I had received calls from the Superintendent of Police asking me to call off the agitation schedule for today. They did not give us permission despite two other protests happening in the same area," Gautam said.
He said when the protester tried to put up hoarding and posters, the police began lathichagre and detained him and his friends.
"Those coming from villages to protest along with us were also not allowed to enter Meerut," Gautam said and added that this was just another ploy of the authorities to stifle the voices of dissent.
This comes even as protests are being held across the country over the arrests of five human rights activists— Sudha Bharadwaj, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Varavara Rao and Gautam Navlakha — by the Pune police earlier this week.
"Dalit and Muslim voices are being silenced. People whose who question government policy are being called anti-nationalists, urban-naxals. This government doesn't want to be questioned. They want to put in a Hindu code of conduct in the country," Gautam said.
The Dalit activist said that the government was creating an Emergency-like environment in the country.
"They either harass or kill those with opposing views. This government believes in politics of hate and fear," he said.
Recently, Gautam had mobilised Dalits against the killing of teenager Rohit Kumar. Kumar, who was assaulted for trying to stop a group of upper-caste men from sexually harassing a minor, died from his injuries.
He is the president of the Democratic Students' Front in Meerut.
Gautam was also part of a mahapanchayat that had warned of agitations over pressure on Kumar's family to drop the charges against the assaulters.
Filmmaker Nakul Singh Sawhney, who has worked closely with Gautam and described him as a "rising young Dalit leader", told HuffPost India that he was picked up at a protest for Kumar.
HuffPost India learnt that the activists were detained for protesting at Meerut's Chaudhary Charan Singh Park, opposite the Commissionerate, without permission.
Listen to Gautam speak at a protest in Meerut: