More than forty organisations and activists have signed a joint statement to come in support of the arrest of two students by the Delhi Police on charges of instigating communal riots and others, which the signatories deem as ‘trumped up’ and ‘baseless.’
On 14th April 2020, a joint statement signed by 48 organisations and activists, such as Federation of Central Universities Teachers’ Association (FEDCUTA), Jamia Teachers’ Association (JTA), journalist Pamela Philipose, etc was issued, which served as a solidarity and support statement for two accused students, named Safoora Zargar and Meeran Haider, who were booked by the police for some criminal charges and involvement in the North East Delhi pogrom which started on 23rd February 2020 and caused massive destruction.
Majid Jamil, Secretary of JTA told DU Beat, “We issued a joint statement with FEDCUTA and many other organisations.” When asked upon details of the case he denied saying anything apart from what was issued in the joint statement. Professor Nandita Narayan, who is the former President of the Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) and Ex-President of FEDCUTA also confirmed her solidarity with the accused students to DU Beat. She too denied any further details than what was expressed in the joint statement.
Accused Safoora Zargar, an M.Phil student at Jamia and a joint media coordinator of the Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) for movement against the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). The Outlook reported that she was arrested on 11th April, Saturday. The Scroll report said that Zargar was accused of obstructing the road near the Jaffrabad metro station during the anti-CAA protests in the area.
Accused Meeran Haider is a resident of Jamia Nagar, and a Ph.D student at Jamia who is also the president of the Delhi unit of the Rashtriya Janata Dal’s youth wing. He was an active member of the protest. On 31 March, the Delhi Police’s special cell sent him a notice pertaining to “FIR no 59/2020.” The notice said, “In connection with the investigation, you are requested to join the investigation on 01.04.2020 at 10 AM at the office of Special Cell, Lodhi Colony, New Delhi.” It added, “If you fail to appear, appropriate legal action will be taken against you. This may be treated as urgent.” He was subsequently arrested. The Press Trust of India reported a statement from his lawyer, who said that he was arrested for “allegedly hatching a conspiracy to incite communal riots in northeast Delhi.” On 6 April, a Delhi court extended Haider’s police custody for another nine days. On 15 April, the court sent him to judicial custody for 14 days.
According to the above mentioned joint statement the signers asked for attention from those who believed in democracy and secularism and highlighted the backdrop of what they believe is the historic anti CAA movement in which Jamia students and community women took to the front-line to defend their constitutional rights. They believe that post the peaceful withdrawal of the movement owing to the global spread of novel COVID-19, Delhi Police is picking on those who were active in the movement. The joint statement called the riots instigating charge as “trumped up” and other allegations as “baseless.”
The statement further asserted- “What is particularly worrying in this entire context is that Shrimati Safoora Zargar is pregnant and in this condition, she requires proper care and medical supervision. This kind of action during the lockdown due to the Coronavirus is a violation of their constitutional rights. We register our strong protest in this context and demand that the constitutional rights of the two arrested leaders, Shrimati Safoora Zargar, and Meeran Haider be respected and they be released forthwith.”
Instances of multiple arrests of anti CAA protestors from Jamia Nagar amidst the lockdown has surfaced, and constant picking up of activists who happen to be anti-establishment raises scepticism about intentional targeting of those certain groups.
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