Student Leaders Demand Release of Activists, Pledge to Resume Anti-CAA Movement

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Anti-CAA activists

Zafar Afaq | Clarion India

NEW DELHI – Young activists and student leaders from different organisations, slammed the Central government over the arrest and witch-hunt of anti CAA activists by the Delhi Police. They demanded their release and immediate halt to the crackdown on the innocent.

At an online joint press meet held on Monday afternoon, Ayesha Renna of Jamia Millia Islamia, Fawaz Shaheen of SIO, N Sai Balaji, Kanaiya Kumar, former presidents of Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU, Umar Khalid, Independent MLA Jignesh Mevani among others called the crackdown on the students a conspiracy to stifle the voice of dissent.

Ayesha Renna, a student leader and an activist of the anti-CAA movement, said, “The Saffron brigade wants to wash its hands off the pandemic.”

Another student leader and former president of JNUSU, N. Sai Balaji, said, “The government is on the  one hand criminalising the reading of preamble of the Constitution of India while on the other, promoting slogans like shoot the traitors (Desh ke gaddaron ko, goli maaro …) as nationalism.

He asked why the police has not arrested the shooters at Jamia Ram Gopal Bhakt, Komal Sharma, an accused in JNU incident, and Kapil Mishra, who openly instigated the riots standing right in front of the then DCP northeast.

The speakers drew parallels between the government and the British rule in India.

Leader of the Communist Party of India (CPI) and former student leader, Kanhaiya Kumar, said that the BJP was following the footprints of the British hunting two birds with one stone. “By these arrests”, he said, “The government is taking revenge from the dissenters for the anti-CAA movement while sending out a warning to future dissenters.”

When asked why he has been silent over the arrest of anti CAA activists, Kumar said it was the compulsion to follow the rules of lockdown that prevented him from holding protests.

The activists called the arrests made in connection with the northeast Delhi riots a result of the worst political vendetta of the Central government. “What’s happening in Delhi is the extended version of Gujarat’s Godhra pogrom and Maharashtra’s Bhima Koregaon episodes,” said Jignesh Mevani, the independent MLA from Vadgaon Constituency of Gujarat state is one of the staunch critics of the BJP.

“The purpose of lockdown was to flatten the corona, but the government is using it to flatten dissent,” said Umar Khalid. He said the Delhi Police is damaging its own image by carrying out political agenda. “Delhi Police,” he added, “have brutalised students long before the anti-CAA movement. It started in the month of October last year during a movement in JNU.”

Though the BJP government has been at the centre of criticism, lately the Opposition too is being questioned in the same spirit. “Opposition’s silence makes them equally responsible for the atrocities perpetrated on students,” said Salman Imtiaz, president of Aligarh Muslim University who questioned.

Recalling arrest of several activists across the country, Kanhaiya Kumar questioned the priorities of a welfare government. “The government should have arranged food and jobs for the poor instead of projecting students as enemies of the state labeling them as jihadi, naxalites, anti-national, anti-Hindu or members of tukde-tukde gang.”

Delhi Police role as an accomplice of the government came under sharp criticism from the activists. The speakers claimed that no case would stand judicial scrutiny as the police have no prima facie evidence. “Since the FIRs are baseless, the police can’t prove any of the charges and eventually everyone will be acquitted,” said Umar Khalid.

He observed that the time spent the arrested activists spent in jail is a punishment for not committing any crime. He said the authorities were taking advantage of the ongoing lockdown to crush the dissidence. “The lockdown was brought in place to flatten the (Covid) curve, but instead it’s the dissent that is being flattened.”

Omer Farook, president of Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANU), said students are not enemies of the state, rather the Delhi Police have become the puppet in the hands of the Central government.

All the activists have a clear message that once the lockdown is over, the anti-CAA movement will resume and will continue until the law is repealed. “We have decided to move forward with the movement after the lockdown with the same spirit as it was carried out before lockdown,” asserted Ayesha Renna.

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