New Delhi: A group of 1,100 activists from across India have issued a statement condemning the arrests of Muslims and women activists in Delhi who were at the forefront of the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
Noting that these arrests were taking place at a time the country was in lockdown, activists have demanded that the Delhi Police make public the details of the FIRs, arrests and detentions with their legal status, and conduct a free and fair investigation into all the incidents of violence.
They also demanded that false cases against peaceful anti-CAA protestors be dropped, and those arrested on “trumped-up charges” be immediately released.
The signatories of the statement included social activists Medha Patkar, Aruna Roy and Teesta Setalvad, Dipa Sinha, a professor at Ambedkar University, film director Aparna Sen, celebrated authors Meena Kandasamy and Gita Hariharan, eminent lawyers Anubha Rastogi and Vasudha Nagraj.
They also included members of feminists groups such as Saheli, National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW), All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA), LABIA – A Queer Feminist LBT Collective and Forum Against Oppression of Women (FAOW).
What the statement says
The activists demanded that action instead be taken against the “actual instigators and perpetrators of communal violence”.
“Real culprits of the violence in Delhi must be booked, including the likes of Kapil Mishra, Anurag Thakur, Parvesh Verma and others who instigated hate, sparked and perpetuated the violence,” they said.
BJP leader Kapil Mishra was in February accused of delivering hate speeches that instigated the Delhi riots during the anti-CAA protests.
The statement highlighted the cases of three Muslim women who were at the forefront of the protests. It claimed that these women were not involved in the violence in any way, contrary to the Delhi Police’s charge.
Gulfisha, who was arrested on 9 April, is a 25-year-old MBA student who took part in the Seelampur anti-CAA protests. According to the statement, Gulfisha has been languishing in judicial custody under false charges of sedition, without access to her family or a lawyer.
She had reportedly been named in an FIR in February. Gulfisha is also part of Pinjra Tod — a collective of women students and alumni of colleges from across Delhi.
The statement also noted the case of Safoora Zargar, a 30-year-old member of the Jamia Coordination Committee, who was arrested for allegedly being the key conspirator of the violence. Zargar is three months pregnant, the statement added.
The third case cited was that of Ishrat Jahan, a former municipal councillor, who has been in jail for over a month now.
In the statement, the activists alleged that Jahan, who had participated in the protests against CAA and the National Register of Citizens in East Delhi’s Khureji, has been subjected to torture in jail.
Jahan was accused of attempt to murder in a case related to the violence and rioting that tore through northeast Delhi for three days in February. He was also denied bale, the collective said.