Zafar Afaq | Clarion India
NEW DELHI – A group of parliamentarians from different Opposition parties called for a united response to the arrest and witch-hunt of anti-CAA activists by police. They slammed the government for invoking the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) against ‘peaceful’ activists and demanded released.
An online joint press meet was organised by the members of Parliament including Manoj Jha of Rashtriya Janta Dal (JDU), D Raja of CPI, Shafiq ur Rehman Barq of Smajwadhi Party (SP), Majid Memon and Naseer Hussain. The meeting was moderated by Nadeem Khan, a leading human rights activist who heads the ‘United Against Hate’ group.
Speaking on the occasion, Raja said that there was need for a united political movement to safeguard democracy and constitution. Launching a scathing attack on the current dispensation, he said, “This government is undermining federalism, rights of state, trade and workers’ unions, democracy, constitution and secularism.”
The CPI leader said the Delhi Police was acting at the instructions from the top to arrest the students and activists. The Opposition must ask questions and hold the police accountable for their actions.
Raja accused the government of taking advantage of the pandemic to attack activists and students. He also mentioned the witch-hunt of intellectuals like Saibaba, Gautam Navlakha and Anand Teltumbe who are currently under detention on charges of sedition.
Hussain, a Congress MP from Bangalore, said it was undemocratic on the part of the government to crush activism and dissent. In democracy, no one is above criticism, not even the Prime Minister.
The CAA had triggered a wave of peaceful protests across India. Muslim women took to streets and began indefinite sit-ins at various places across the country asking the government to revoke the “discriminatory” law which went against the secular and democratic spirit of the constitution of the country.
According to the law, migrants from neighbouring countries living in India will be granted citizenship. But it specifically excludes Muslims. Critics say the law, if coupled with the proposed nationwide citizenship test, will enable disenfranchisement of Muslim citizens. They will be sent to detention centres if they fail to prove their citizenship in accordance new norms.
Irked by the protests, senior leaders and ministers from the ruling BJP, in their speeches, exhorted their supporters to shoot the protesters! “Goli maaro salon ko” became the war cry of the mobs supporting the ruling party. This eventually led to outbreak of violence in parts of Delhi. The carnage that followed left behind a trail of death and destruction.
More than 50 people were killed, hundreds of houses were set ablaze and many families were displaced in three days of violence. The police were accused of siding with rampaging mobs throughout the violence and arson.
The same Delhi Police have 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 detained.
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 the violence, a charge which they are unlikely to prove in a court of law.
Talking about the ‘injustice’ being meted out to the Muslims, Advocate Majeed Memon pointed out how Delhi High Court Judge was transferred hastily when he ordered the police to file FIR against BJP leaders in February over speeches exhorting the crowds to resort to violence.
He termed the probes conducted by the government into riots “biased”.
Samajwadi MP Barq asked what was the sin of Muslims that they are being punished for and why is their patriotism being questioned. “Muslim faced persecution during freedom struggle and is this what our forefathers fought for,” he asked.
He said if the hatred against Muslims is not challenged, the county will be destroyed.
Haji Fazl ur Rehman of BSP who represents Sahranpur in the Lok Sabha slammed the government for jailing the activists amid the outbreak of the pandemic. ‘While the Supreme Court ordered decongestion of prisons to curb the spread of virus, the government is sending the activists to jail,” he said adding that the government was doing so with a “revengeful motive”.
The speakers were firm that once the pandemic is over, the CAA protests will resume. “The movement has been only suspended in view of the coronavirus pandemic. It has not been called off,” Hussain pronounced.