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Delhi riots: Seeking to 'criminalise' women protesters, govt floats conspiracy theories

By Our Representative
Ten women's groups and more than 100 individuals* led by economist Devaki Jain, historian Uma Chakravarti and activist-writer Farah Naqvi in a statement issued in the wake of violence that gripped Delhi in the last week of February have regretted that, instead of holding the people who incited violence accountable, there is a rush to spin arbitrary conspiracy theories.
Especially objecting to efforts to criminalise peaceful women protesters and the members of the civil society who stand with them, the statement, signed mainly by women's rights activists and academics, says, "Scared and displaced Muslims, who were the primary target of this hate-attack, are still in relief camps, holding on to their children and their dignity despite this devastation."
Noting that "Hindu families who lost homes and properties are struggling to come to terms with this nightmare as well", the statement further says, "Both communities bear the sorrow of lives and livelihoods lost in this senseless violence." However, it regrets, at a time when governments should be offering "justice, reassurance and relief", what one see instead is, "the state, a section of the media, and vested interests are creating even more hate."
"Instead of taking action against an erring police force, and against those who openly instigated and perpetrated violence, we find them trying to pin the blame on the women for protesting peacefully", it says, adding, "What we are witnessing is a concerted misinformation campaign that criminalises the protestors, spins conspiracy theories and targets all those who supported the protests."
Asserting that it is a proud moment for Muslim women to lead these protests, which is "in the best tradition of our freedom struggle", the statement says, "something resonated in the soul of India" when students, women’s rights activists, queer groups, people’s movements, farmers and workers collectives, and ordinary citizens fought for "justice, harmony and peace" at over 300 places, sitting for hours on streets to be heard.
Claiming that, today, India is being "targeted", the statement says, "There is intimidation, FIRs based on falsehoods, threat of arrest against the protestors and those who stood with the protests. This politics of intimidation threatens all women, it threatens each citizen, and it must end now."
Opposing the proposed National Population Register (NPR), Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC), and "standing by the protestors and the right to protest", the statement demands action against "those who have conducted systematic hate campaigns, spread falsehood, instigated and perpetrated the violence."
Seeking revocation of "false cases"against protestors exercising their democratic rights, and withdrawal of NPR-CAA-NRC, even as initiating dialogue with the protesting women, the statement demands "time bound relief and compensation to families of all who lost lives in the Delhi violence, and full rehabilitation to those displaced."
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*Click here for list of signatories

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