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Indian Americans Welcome Release of Dr Kafeel, Demand Freedom for Other Prisoners of Conscience

Dr Kafeel Khan at a camp in Muzaffarpur to offer free medical care to patients.

IAMC demanded that the Indian Government must immediately set free hundreds of other Muslim activists and human rights defenders

Clarion India

WASHINGTON — The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), an advocacy group committed to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos, on Friday welcomed the release from prison of Dr. Kafeel Khan, a whistleblower Indian Muslim doctor who has been repeatedly imprisoned by Uttar Pradesh government on false criminal charges.

The Council also welcomes the release of Pinjra Tod activist Devangana Kalita and former AMU student leaders Sharjeel Usmani and Farhan Zuberi.

IAMC lauded the Allahabad High Court, which ordered his release this week, for rejecting the government’s claim that the 39-year-old pediatrician had tried to “increase hatred, enmity and disharmony towards Hindus” in a speech last December. The government had booked Dr. Khan under the draconian National Security Act.

That the High Court unequivocally ruled that Dr. Khan “did not promote hatred or violence” but, in fact, gave a call for “unity among citizens” in his speech exposed that the state government’s true intent behind incarcerating Dr. Khan is to persecute Muslims for raisin voice against India’s new anti-Muslim citizenship law, said IAMC.

“In his speech in December that caused his arrest, Dr. Kafeel Khan had blamed Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government for its economic failures and rising unemployment, and criticised it for bringing the citizenship law with the sole aim of rendering millions of Muslims illegal migrants in their country of birth,” said Ahsan Khan, President of the Indian American Muslim Council.

“As the high court said, he broke no law but actually performed his duty as a law-abiding citizen in a democracy, but was punished nonetheless,” added Mr. Khan.

It is appalling that the Uttar Pradesh government has repeatedly filed false criminal cases against Dr. Khan over the last three years. He was jailed for seven months in 2017 on the false accusation that his negligence had caused the death of 70 minor patients at a government hospital in Gorakhpur, while several investigations revealed that Dr. Khan had, in fact, worked day and night to save hundreds of children from certain death by arranging oxygen for them with his own money.

“The Uttar Pradesh government, which is also run by Modi’s political party, the BJP, has viciously attacked, killed and imprisoned hundreds of Muslims over the last seven months in a bid to terrorise largest religious minority and to browbeat it into submission to accept the new citizenship law,” said Syed Ali Vice President of IAMC.

IAMC also said that the Indian Government must immediately set free hundreds of other Muslim activists and human rights defenders such as Ishrat Jahan, Natasha Narwal, Meeran Haider, Sharjeel Imam, Khalid Saifi, Akhil Gogoi, Dhairjya Konwar, Bittu Sonowal, Manash Konwar, who were arrested during the anti-CAA protests.

IAMC has also demanded the release of former Gujarat-cadre IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt, poet-activist Varavara Rao, Ex-DU professor GN Saibaba, social activists and intellectuals Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha, who were arrested in the 2018 Bhima Koregaon case.

“Modi government is adamant at sabotaging the right to protest and the freedom of expression, which have long been the cornerstone of the Indian democracy,” Ahsan Khan of IAMC said.

IAMC is dedicated to promoting the common values of pluralism, tolerance, and respect for human rights that form the basis of the world’s two largest secular democracies – the United States and India.

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