Criminalisation of Pro-Palestine Activism in India Condemned

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The series of arrests and police harassment of protestors began with action against four students of Aligarh Muslim University who were part of a march for justice for Palestinians on campus. The students were charged on October 9 for “inciting hatred and enmity between different communities”.

Team Clarion

NEW DELHI — Scores of activists from all walks of life have supported the Palestinian people’s struggle and their enduring national cause against Zionist occupation.

In a statement issued here recently, workers’ unions, civil liberties and feminist groups, student organisations and farmer unions, writers, artists, students and educators, and non-resident Indians drew attention to the Indian government’s complicity in Israel’s cruel and brutal actions in the ongoing bombardment of Gaza.

The statement comes amid severe repression of pro-Palestine protests across Indian cities, as protestors have been detained, assaulted, and booked under criminal charges by police in various states, media reports said on Monday.

India abstained from a UN General Assembly resolution calling for an enduring humanitarian truce on Israel’s war on Gaza, with the excuse that the resolution lacked “explicit condemnation” of the Hamas attack on Israel on 7 October.

With this statement, Indian citizens continue to push the government to “commit to a boycott of the Israeli state and military combined, and immediately end all military, strategic and industrial cooperation between the governments and private entities of India and Israel.”

The statement demanded “immediate” and “time-bound measures on the ground to enable the Palestinians to exercise their right to self-determination, and in particular, the right of dignified return of those dispossessed from their homeland since the 1948 Nakba.”

The signatories, which include Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan) and Kirti Kisan Union (Punjab), sought unconditional release of Palestinian prisoners, as well as Kashmiri and Indian political prisoners who have been incarcerated for “speaking the truth and resisting oppressive imperialist forces.”

They also called on Indian state institutions to end the criminalisation of pro-Palestine activism in the country, and notably, to stop the harassment of Indian Muslims and Kashmiris speaking out in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

The series of arrests and police harassment of protestors began with action against four students of Aligarh Muslim University who were part of a march for justice for Palestinians on campus. The students were charged on October 9 for “inciting hatred and enmity between different communities”.

Further, the statement asked the Supreme Court and the National Human Rights Commission to act against rising hate speech against Palestinians and fake news about the Israel-Hamas attacks since October 7, much of which, according to international media outlets, is being generated and spread by social media accounts based in India.

The statement is the first major articulation of common solidarity for Palestinians and Kashmiris against “occupation”, made by Indian citizens living in India and abroad in recent years.

The signatories also demanded that the “Indian government… be held accountable in domestic as well as international courts for its use of Israeli technologies of surveillance, subjugation and violence on the people of Jammu and Kashmir as well as on refugees and Indian citizens within its own borders, especially Adivasis, Muslims, Dalits, regional and sub-national movements, student activists, women and gender-sexual minorities.”

Human rights groups and independent fact-finding investigations have recorded the use of Israeli drone technology to drop bombs on Adivasi homes and lands in Bastar and Bijapur in at least four separate incidents since 2021, the latest being reported on 7 April 2023. 

The statement also addressed the Indian judiciary and the International Criminal Court, seeking “Unflinching and timely accountability for the crimes against humanity committed by Israel and its allies against the people of Palestine, in a specially constituted tribunal” at the ICC.

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