Skip to main content

FIRs against Delhi, Kashmir activists, journalists: Demand to stop 'witch hunt'

Counterview Desk
Campaign against State Repression (CASR), a platform with over 36 organisations, including democratic rights organisations, student's organisations, teacher's organisations, trade unions and women's organisations*, has asked the Government of India to stop the alleged witch-hunt of activists and journalists in Delhi and Kashmir, even as seeking repeal the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), which is being used against them.
In a statement, they said, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the police have filed several FIRs against the activists who have been providing relief and against journalists doing their job. Condemning the “targeting” of activists and journalists, demanding revocation of cases, and release of arrested persons, the statement says, the police are not acting against those who “wracked” North-East Delhi in February third week.

Text:

Over the last two weeks, across New Delhi, numerous activists and students have been targeted and harassed by the Delhi Police. Operating under an open-ended FIR, the police are attempting to accuse these persons, many of whom are engaged in providing indispensable relief work to workers and people bereft of food and other supplies due to the ill-planned COVID-19 induced lockdown, of instigating and executing the violence that engulfed North East Delhi in late February 2020.
Three activists, Meeran Haidar and Safoora Zargar of Jamia Millia Islamia and Umar Khalid, former student of Jawaharlal Nehru University, have now been charged under several sections of the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and Indian Penal Code (IPC).
These charges must not be seen as isolation. Rather, they are continuation of the numerous methods by which the state has sought to crush the vibrant struggle for democratic rights that emerged from the opposition to the communally charged and anti-people Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Registry of Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR). It must be noted here that by accusing these persons of orchestrating the violence in North East Delhi, the State is in fact perpetrating an absolute travesty of justice.
That the violence which wracked North-East Delhi was orchestrated is indisputable. However, its real perpetrators and planners not only remain free but also bask under the protection of the police and the administration. BJP leaders like Anurag Thakur, Kapil Mishra and Ragini Tiwari who have been recorded making inflammatory and communally charged speeches, urging violence against Muslims and all those opposing the CAA, NRC and NPR have not even been questioned.
The numerous RSS and Bajrang Dal workers involved in mobilising and leading the Hindutva mob that ransacked North East Delhi remain unprosecuted. The innumerable police personnel who viciously attacked Muslim youth and actively aided the Hindutva mob, continue to patrol the streets with impunity, and now brutalise the hapless and starving residents of Delhi in search of food and other rations. 

Kashmir lockdown

While all this happens in the Capital, the situation in Kashmir is equally dire if not worse. While the lockdown in India commenced on March 22, 2020, Kashmir has been under lockdown since the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5, 2019, causing immeasurable physical and mental harm to the Kashmiri people. Lack of mobility, scarcity of resources, restrictions on information, disruptions to work and education that people across the country face today has been a fixture in the lives of Kashmiris for the last nine months.
Furthermore, the countrywide dearth of medical facilities is even more pronounced in the Kashmir Valley where the doctor to patient ratio is drastically below the country-wide average. Journalists like Masrat Zahra, Mushtaq Ganaie and Gowhar Geelani who have attempted to document the difficulties faced by the Kashmiri people, particularly during the spread of the COVID-19 virus, have faced the ire of the State and are charged under sections of UAPA and IPC.
Notably, Peerzada Ashiq, a journalist who exposed the diversion of COVID-19 kits from Kashmir to Jammu has been similarly charged. It is a grave reflection of our times that even the performance of journalistic duties is deemed a terrorist act.
Targeting and marginalising Muslims on the Indian mainland and militarily repressing Kashmiris are nothing new for the Indian State. However, at a time when the material conditions of the broad masses have deteriorated severely and the State has adopted a Brahmanical Hindutva fascist character, these actions must be viewed as part of the larger narrative of establishing the Hindu Rashtra.
Efforts to degrade Muslims to second-class citizen status, attempted via the CAA, NRC and NPR, have continued even during the COVID-19 pandemic. The labeling of the Nizamuddin Markaz as part of a “Corona Jihad”, the boycott of Muslim essential service providers and the denial of medical care to Muslims, including pregnant Muslim women, are all part and parcel of these efforts. 
Mainstream media has drilled communal narrative into public discourse feeding prejudice and bigotry with dubious reporting
Mainstream media has drilled this communal narrative into the public discourse feeding prejudice and bigotry with sensationalist headlines and dubious reporting.
Today, a large section of the Indian masses face the dual risk of infection and starvation due to the BJP-led Central government’s refusal to bear responsibility to provide food and other rations during the lockdown. 
At such a time, when an eruption of popular anger against this complete disregard for the material conditions of the masses is possible, BJP led Central and State Governments and their lackeys in the mainstream media have made every effort to divert this anger towards the Muslim community.
This narrative is being portrayed throughout the country in relation to COVID-19 and additionally in Delhi with regard to the violence in North East Delhi. This is a narrative that all democratic and progressive forces must condemn and combat.
Finally, it must be noted that the branding and targeting activists to demoralise and crush the movements they belong to is a tactic that the state is deploying with increasing frequency and intensity.
Be it in the arrest of eleven academics, activists, lawyers, journalists and poets in the Elgaar Parishad-Bhima Koregaon case or the incarceration of Akhil Gogoi, Chingiz Khan, Ishrat Jahan, Dr. Kafeel Khan, Khalid Saifi, Sharjeel Imam and now several more, it is evident that the State is becoming more and more intolerant of any dissent or opposition. At such times, it is imperative that democratic and progressive voices speak out, else risk being silenced forever.
Campaign Against State Repression urges democratic and progressive organisations and individuals to condemn these charges against activists, journalists and students, demand that the arrested be released and the witch-hunt be ceased.
  • Immediately stop the witch-hunt of activists and journalists in Delhi and Kashmir under the draconian UAPA.
  • Immediate release of all arrested activists and political prisoners in fabricated cases particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Immediate action (with restrain in light of COVID-19) against all the perpetrators of violence in North-East Delhi under the garb of cracking down on Anti-CAA protests. 
  • Repeal of all draconian laws including UAPA, NSA and PSA, among others. 
---
*AISA, AISF, APCR, BCM, Bhim Army, Bigul Mazdoor Dasta, BSCEM, CEM, CRPP, CTF, Disha, DISSC, DSU, DTF, IAPL, IMK, Karnataka Janashakti, KYS, Lokpaksh, LSI, Mazdoor Adhikar Sangathan, Mazdoor Patrika, Mehnatkash Mahila Sangathan, Morcha Patrika, NAPM, NBS, NCHRO, Nowruz, NTUI, People’s Watch, Rihai Manch, Samajwadi Janparishad, Satyashodak Sangh, SFI, United Against Hate, WSS

Comments

TRENDING

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam*
RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

By Our Representative
Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book, "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Contempt of court? UP CM taking 'personal vendetta' against Dr Kafeel Khan: Activists

Counterview Desk
Demanding that the Uttar Pradesh government immediately release well-known paediatrician Dr Kafeel Khan, a group of more than 100 academicians, activists, researchers, doctors and lawyers have said in an open letter that he is being “targeted at the behest of the chief minister”, wondering, “When is an act of challenging the government a threat under the National Security Act (NSA)?”

A locked up offer? Govt of India 'not serious' in involving NGOs: IIM-A survey

By Rajiv Shah
Was the Government of India serious when it asked 92,000 civil society organizations (CSOs) in early April to “assist” state governments and district administrations in taking care of food, shelter and other needs of migrant workers, known to have been affected by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’ sudden 21-day lockdown in order to “combat” the spread of Covid-19 virus, announced on March 24?

Will Govt of India, ICMR end 'perverse' practice of extracting profits from ill-health?

By Asmita Verma, Surabhi Agarwal, Bobby Ramakant*
The Epidemics Act, 1897 gives the central and state governments authority to impose any regulations which may be necessary to contain the outbreak of a disease. Some state governments such as Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhatisgarh have already used this power to bring private healthcare facilities in their state under government control.

Dalits in India, Blacks in US suffer 'similar' humiliation: Macwan drafts letter to Trump

Counterview Desk
Well-known human rights activist Martin Macwan, recipient of the prestigious Robert F Kennedy Human Rights Award in 2000, has drafted an open letter to US President Donald Trump following the disturbing turn of events with the murder of George Floyd, leading to widespread protests in the US. He has sought signatures of concerned citizens before sending it to Trump.

Savarkar 'opposed' Bhagat Singh's, Netaji's dream of India, supported British war efforts

By Shamsul Islam*
In a shocking development, the student wing of the RSS put the busts of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose with Savarkar's on one pedestal at the University of Delhi late in the night on August 20, 2019. Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for a socialist-democratic-secular republic and Netaji raised Azad Hind Fauj (INA) consisting of people of all religions and regions for armed liberation of India.

'Violation' of migrant workers' human rights: Legal notice to IIM-A director, govt babus

By Our Representative
Taking strong exception to the police action against protesting migrant workers off the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A) on May 18, senior Gujarat High Court advocate Anandvardhan Yagnik, in a legal notice to the IIM-A director "on their behalf" has said that the workers had only been seeking to to go back to their home states, Jharkhand and West Bengal, for the last more than 20 days because they were not paid their “earned wages because of the lockdown.”

Sitharaman's offer for rural jobs to 'create' just 3 crore rural jobs. Demand: 12 crore jobs

By Amarjeet Kaur*
The final package, the fifth one in a row, announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on May 17 was a fiasco. Sitharaman during her press conference for two hours and six minutes spent more than an hour detailing the policy actions of her government’s last six years’ rule, repeating the already provided proposals during the two budgets after coming to power for the second time, even as reiterating her briefings on the four earlier packages she had announced over the previous four days.