Gulifsha’s lawyer, Mehmood Paracha, who is a legal advisor of women protestors of the sit-in, said the charges brought against Gulifsha are “false”.
Zafar Aafaq | Clarion India
NEW DELHI — Gulifsha, 28, a student activist, has been languishing in New Delhi’s Tihar Jail for the last few weeks and police have slapped on her the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), the so-called anti-terror law, her family and lawyer said.
Gulifsha was detained on April 9 and a week later, she was sent to judicial custody. Her detention is part of a series of arrests the Delhi Police have made over the past few weeks for what they call “an investigation of the large-scale mob violence witnessed in northeast Delhi” in the last week of February.
An MBA from a private college in Ghaziabad, Gulifsha was one of the coordinators of a women-led sit-in in Seelampur-Jafrabad area of northeast Delhi against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) brought in by the Central government in December.
The CAA 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 that the law, if coupled with the potential nationwide citizenship test, will enable the disenfranchisement of Muslim citizens. They will be sent to detention centres if they fail to prove their citizenship in accordance with new norms.
Irked by the protests, senior leaders and ministers from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (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 set ablaze and many families displaced in three days of violence. The police were accused of siding with the rampaging mobs throughout the violence and arson.
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 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.
The family of Gulifsha dismissed the charges leveled against her as “false”. They said they were shocked when they got a call from Jaffarabad police station on April 9 morning informing them about her arrest.
Speaking to Clarion India, her brother who did not want to be named said her sister was part of the protest sit-in at Jaffarabad while the “flare up started from Maujpur where Kapil Mishra instigated his supporters against peaceful anti-CAA protestors.”
He said that the students who are being detained were protesting peacefully. “Not just my sister, the charges against others are also baseless. There is no proof that shows student protestors indulged in violence.”
He alleged that police were taking advantage of the lockdown to arrest the activists without being open about the nature of accusations against them. “There is nothing much we can do right now except have patience and faith in Allah.” He hoped that the activists will win the case as he believes they are on the side of justice and truth and have “nothing to fear”.
Gulifsha’s lawyer, Mehmood Paracha, who is a legal advisor of women protestors of the sit-in, said the charges brought against Gulifsha are patently “false”. “We will establish in the court that she has been falsely implicated by police.”
Paracha added that the arrest of student activists is part of a “larger conspiracy by Delhi police being done at the behest of the RSS”.
RSS is the right-wing militant Hindu organisation that gives the ruling BJP the ideological umbrella.
While condemning the arrest spree, human rights and civil society groups have denounced the narrative of the Delhi Police linking peaceful anti-CAA protests with the recent Delhi violence. They said the Delhi Police are using the dreaded anti-terror law and the ongoing lockdown to suppress the protest movement against the CAA.
Amnesty International India, on Friday, flayed the Modi government for imprisoning peaceful anti-CAA activists during the pandemic terming it “brutal” and “extremely cruel” of the government.
A lawyers’ collective has also issued a statement seeking action against the “actual perpetrators of violence, not peaceful protestors”. They said that police should make all FIRs public. They pointed out that Gulifsha has had no access to her family or lawyer due to lockdown.
While the family of Gulifsha is already very worried and feeling helpless, the coronavirus lockdown has compounded their woes as they are unable to move out to visit her at the prison. “Three days ago, we got a call from the jail. It was my sister on the phone. We just talked for five minutes,” recounted her brother.