Over 200 eminent personalities have issued a joint statement demanding that the Centre release former JNU student leader Umar Khalid and “all those falsely implicated” for protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act.
The signatories include Noam Chomsky, Mira Nair, Amitav Ghosh, Salman Rushdie and Arundhati Roy, P Sainath, Ramchandra Guha, Meena Kandaswamy, Romila Thapar among others.
“We call on the Government of India to free Umar Khalid and all those falsely implicated and unjustly incarcerated for protesting against the CAA-NRC that denies equal citizenship rights and to ensure that the Delhi Police investigates the Delhi riots with impartiality under the oath they took as public servants bound by the Constitution of India,” the statement read.
It further said that the signatories stand in “solidarity and outrage” with Khalid.
“What was Umar Khalid’s crime? That he used the passion of his commitment to his country, marshalled his education and his voice to join the movement for equal citizenship, against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA),” the statement said, according to The Wire.
Khalid was arrested on 13 September under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in a case related to the Delhi riots in February this year. A Delhi court has sent him to judicial custody till 22 October.
This process of criminalising all dissent, the signatories said, has been underway for a few years and even under a Covid-19 pandemic, “relentless political arrests under fabricated charges are punishing the innocent long before they are brought to trial”.
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