Protesters demanded release of all political prisoners and revocation of UAPA invoked against Sharjeel Imam, Asif, Devangna, Natasha, Meeran, Khalid Saifi, etc
JAIPUR – The Rajasthan capital witnessed a student protest on Tuesday against the arrest of student leader and anti-CAA activist Umar Khalid in Delhi on September 14. The protest was organised at Gandhi Circle, Jaipur.
Umar Khalid is the latest victim. So far 20 activists including Sharjeel Imam, Asif Iqbal Tanha, Devangna Kalita, Natasha Narval, Meeran Haider and Khalid Saifi have been booked under stringent laws such as UAPA, NSA and Sedition law by the Central government. Besides, a dozen social activists are in jail in the Bhima Koregaon case.
Addressing the gathering, CPI leader Nisha Siddhu said Umar Khalid has been framed for his opposition to the policies of the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The government was afraid to answer questions that the youths were asking regarding economy and employment, she said. Siddhu believed that the government was forcing people to come out on the streets. They have been left with no option but to protest.
She demanded release of all political prisoners and revocation of UAPA against them. UAPA, or Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act is an anti-terror law under which a detainee can be kept behind bars for six months without trial. Most of the student leaders and activists opposed to the Citizenship (Amendment) Act have been detained under the UAPA.
The protesters were of the view that their fight should not be restricted to opposing the CAA but they should also fight against the UAPA because it violates citizens’ fundamental rights. It is being selectively used against the critics of the government as well as the Muslim community, they said.
Social Activist Rashid Hussain said the Modi government was using coronavirus pandemic as a pretext to silence leaders who were actively involved in Anti-CAA and anti-NRC movement. He said that while real perpetrators of Delhi riots like Kapil Mishra, Pravesh Verma and Anurag Thakur were roaming free, Police are framing young minds and booking them under anti-terror and sedition laws for merely protesting and disagreeing with the government. “We do not fear arrest, even if we have to go to jail, we will go with our smiley faces,” he said.
The state president of Rajasthan Samgra Seva Sangh, Sawai Singh, also participated in the protest. He said that for the past few years efforts to strangle democracy have increased so much so that one wonders if India will remain a democracy. Today, those who divide people are hailed as nationalists while those who are struggling to unite people are called anti-national.
Sawai Singh criticised the government for its failure to provide employment and economic stability. He also referred to the plight of farmers and migrant worker and called Rafael a major scandal. He said constant attack by the government on opposition leaders and activists is a threat to India’s democratic values.
Another Social Activist, Mukesh Nirwasit, warned the government of spreading such protests to all over India. He also criticised the Congress-led state government for preventing the students from staging protest meetings. “What is the difference between the police of Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, which stop us from exercising our right to protest,” he asked and called on the Rajasthan’s Congress government to realise its duty and stand by the people of India.
Khan Iqbal, a local journalist, said: “Indian jails have been converted into the ‘detention centres’ for the vocal voices such as students and intellectuals who are bravely fighting against the unconstitutional moves of the BJP government.” He said the government was afraid of the students who are raising their voices against its disastrous policies.
Aafaque Ansar from the Students Islamic Organisation and Ritansh Aazad from AIRSO also spoke on the occasion.