Crackdown on Activists: Women’s Collective Puts Delhi Police on Notice, Calls for Transparency

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Safoora Zargar and Meeran Haider

Clarion India

NEW DELHI—A women’s collective campaigning for the release of student activists arrested in connection with Delhi violence have written an open letter to the investigating officers to be transparent in the conduct of their inquiry.

The letter casts doubts over Delhi Police claims that they were using scientific methods in the investigation. It accuses the investigators of lying about the manner of investigation as arrests are being made “carelessly”.

The letter alleges that the investigators are “overlooking the evidence and slapping charges against the activists under the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) “which may or may not be proven”. The collective found a mismatch between the actions and the words of the investigators.
Denouncing the arrests, especially of woman activists, the letter brands the actions of the police “vengeful vehemence”. “We see you putting a pregnant woman in solitary confinement for being part of a student body,” the letter says.

The same Delhi Police has made a series of detentions in the name of investigation at a time when the entire country is under an unprecedented lockdown. What’s more, they have chosen the UAPA as a weapon against the people under detention.

The detainees include student activists, protest coordinators including Safoora Zargar, Meeran Haider, Shafi ur Rehman and ordinary youths from the Muslim community. The police say they are responsible for instigating violence, a charge the critics call part of a witch-hunt to suppress the anti-CAA movement led by students and women.

The collective have been writing to the Ministry of Home Affairs frequently demanding a more transparent process of investigation.

The letter draws attention to how the investigators are “ignoring” the videos of stone pelting, mob violence or BJP leaders exhorting supporters to take law into their own hands.

The letter questions the credibility of investigation techniques: “You announce that you have arrested 1,300 people equally from both communities, but do not spell out their names or the charges/FIRs filed. This lack of transparency has led us to seek a public declaration of all the FIRs, a Public Judicial Enquiry and an unconditional release of all arrested, particularly women and students.”

The letter claims that the collective did an investigation on their own in which they saw 45 FIRs and found “None of their FIRs have been put up for public scrutiny.”

The letter alleges that the police “fail to clearly state their findings”.

The collective says the letter is a reiteration of the demand for accountability and that they will not let pandemic be used as a cover to brush the excesses under carpet.

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