“The Delhi Police is framing student activists who raised their voice against CAA. Maybe they know that nothing will happen in court but they are making this process a punishment,” Communist Party of India (ML) Politburo member and secretary of All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA) Kavita Krishna said in a joint press conference, attended online by approximately 250 people, where civil society leaders came together to speak against the ‘framing of Anti-CAA activists under false charges and the continuous witch-hunt by Delhi police’ on 21 May.
Other than Krishnan, the speakers were senior advocate in the Supreme Court Prashant Bhushan, vice president of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind Saleem Engineer, Rajya Sabha member Manoj Kumar Jha, Delhi University professor Apoorvanand, president of All India Muslim Maljis-e-Mushawarat (AIMMM) Naved Hamid and secretary of Citizens for Justice and Peace Teesta Setalvad.
Apoorvanand said that the Delhi Police was making a story out of there plot by tying Anti-CAA protests to Delhi riots. He said, “The Delhi Police has been calling people in, forcing them to turn witness, or arresting them.” Speaking about the anti-CAA protests he said that in the two and a half months against the bill, there was no violence whatsoever, adding that the violence was instigated.
“The violence was instigated by central government ministers who shrewdly provoked people to be violent in the run up to the elections in Delhi.”
Setalvad asked why the opposition was being silent, “When it comes to the migrant workers, you can see the opposition speaking up about issues then why are they being silent now?” Speaking about the role of the judiciary, she said, “We are looking towards the judiciary to take appropriate steps and act. Hope is they will rise and ensure such things do not happen.”
Questioning the silence of the National Human Rights Commission, AIMMM president Hamid said that the students in jail are the constitutional warriors of the country.
“They sacrificed themselves to keep the sanctity of the constitution intact. Those in a place to speak against such actions must do so or be removed from their post if they can not safeguard rights,” he said.
Rajya Sabha member Manoj Kumar Jha said that considering the COVID-19 pandemic courts are not functioning as usual. Speaking of a time where he was present in court during a hearing, he said, “Most judges are operating from home. Twice I saw that there were no arguments that happened, what the police wanted happened and custody of the activist was handed over to them. It is amply clear that this timing was chosen to act against these activists as courts are not going to function normally right now.”
Focusing on the role of the police in perpetuating the link between Anti-CAA protests and the Delhi riots, Saleem Engineer from Jamaat-E-Islami Hind said that the Delhi Police was facing a challenge of maintaining their own freedom.
In a statement, which was an appeal to the conscience of the Delhi police, Engineer said, “The Delhi Police is facing a challenge of maintaining its freedom right now. They should not become a tool in the hands of politics or a particular political party. It is important they ensure their self respect and freedom remains intact.” Referring almost directly to the Delhi police, he said, “You are answerable to constitution and the law. Your responsibility isn’t to further the agenda of any party. These kids should be let off asap and such investigations must stop in the future.”
Speaking about the way leaders from the BJP in Delhi instigated violence, SC advocate Prashant Bhushan, said, “BJP has wanted to disrupt protests for very long. People have gone ahead with guns and shot at these Anti-CAA protest sites. However the capable activists did not let this grow into any kind of violence. So when these tactics failed, then BJP leader Kapil Mishra was sent to openly provoke people. After which these activists are being targeted. There are no proper hearings happening through video conferencing. The National Human Rights Commission is also not working.”
‘Demand Immediate Release of All Students and Activists’
A press statement was circulated after the meeting, which included these statements: We strongly condemn the arrest and witch-hunting of the anti-CAA activists. These desperate attempts by Delhi Police to make people sign on blank papers or pressurising them to turn approvers is particularly disturbing and highly illegal. This shows that the Delhi Police is using this case to only frame activists.
We demand the immediate release of all students and activists. The use of the draconian law like UAPA to intimidate students and activists of a peaceful democratic movement is abominable and highly condemnable.
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