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Around 70 Eminent Personalities Condemn Invocation of UAPA against Students and Activists, Demand Their Release

01 May 2020 03:05 PM, IST

Around 70 Eminent Personalities Condemn Invocation of UAPA against Students and Activists, Demand Their Release
(L-R) Githa Hariharan, Mallika Sarabhai, Justice BG Kolse Patil and John Dayal

India Tomorrow


NEW DELHI, MAY 1— “When governments all over the world are fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic, Modi government using the opportunity created by the lockdown is fighting dissidents and abolishing them of their fundamental rights and people are being picked up and put in jails under fictitious cases,” said around 70 eminent figures of civil society in a joint statement on Thursday.


In the last two weeks, around half a dozen youth activists and students were booked under the anti-terror law Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and some of them were arrested and sent to jail.


“We, a group of activists and citizens of India, express our deep concern over the recent arrests on the false pretext that have been taking place using the regressive Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) by the Union government,” reads the statement signed by noted figures including Githa Hariharan, Justice BG Kolse Patil, Harsh Mander, Mallika Sarabhai, Medha Patkar and John Dayal.


Recent Arrests under UAPA

-- On April 14, Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha were arrested by National Investigative Agency (NIA) in the Bhima-Koregaon case.


-- On April 20, Jammu and Kashmir police booked Masrat Zahra, a 26-year-old photojournalist.


-- On April 20, Delhi Police booked Jamia Millia Islamia students Meeran Haider and Safoora Zargar in a case related to North East Delhi riots and arrested. Former JNU research scholar Umar Khalid was also booked.


-- On April 26, Shifa-Ur-Rehman, the President of Jamia Millia Islamia Alumni Association and a member of Jamia Coordination Committee was booked for alleged involvement in the North-East Delhi riots and was subsequently arrested by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police.


-- On April 27, Delhi Police went to AISA's Delhi President Kawalpreet Kaur’s house and seized her mobile phone in the name of enquiry into the North-East Delhi violence. She was booked under UAPA.


On December 17, Assam-based anti-corruption and Right to Information activist Akhil Gogoi was charged with sedition, intention to cause riot against national integration, and unlawful association under UAPA.


“Looking at all the cases together, we firmly believe that the extremely draconian and regressive amended UAPA law has been strategically put in place to exterminate both, dissent and dissidents during the lockdown period due to COVID-19 pandemic,” said the civil society leaders.


“UAPA allows the government to proscribe individuals as terrorists and permits more officers of the National Investigation Agency to probe cases. A person charged under the act can be jailed for up to seven years. While passing the law in Rajya Sabha in 2019, Home Minister Amit Shah claimed that "UAPA’s only purpose was to fight terrorism", but now it is being used as a tool for intimidating citizens and eliminating opposition being faced by the government on various of its policies,” they charged.


Govt. Trying to Save Real Culprits of Delhi Violence by Blaming and Arresting Anti-CAA Protesters: Civil Society Leaders


In the joint statement, the civil society figures have charged the central government for saving the culprits of Delhi violence by blaming and arresting anti-CAA-NRC protesters.


“With the help of these arrests, the Union government is trying its best to put the blame of North East Delhi riots on Anti-CAA, NRC and NPR protestors and change the narrative altogether as they did in the Bhima Koregaon case. These arrests are being made despite the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights urging all states to release “every person detained without sufficient legal basis, including political prisoners, and those detained for critical, dissenting views” on 3 April 2020.”


They further said: “Union government is saving the real culprits, whereas, young students, activists and coordination committee members who participated in the Anti-CAA protests in different parts of India are being wrongfully arrested. It is an engineered attempt to save indictable people affiliated to the right-wing ruling party like Kapil Mishra, Anurag Thakur, Parvesh Verma, Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote, who are still at large.”


The civil society leaders have demanded release of the students and activists arrested under UAPA.


“We strongly condemn these unethical attempts being made by the Union government to change the narrative of these engineered acts of violence time and again. We stand together in solidarity with the people that are being suppressed by these regressive laws and demand their immediate release. We also request all citizens to come and stand in solidarity against the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and its targeted misuse by the State, especially during the lockdown due to COVID-19, to silence and threaten activists, students and organisations that are critical of the central government,” reads the statement signed by the following personalities:



A C Michael, Former Member Delhi Minorities Commission

Abha Bhaiya, social activist, Himachal

Abhishek Khandelwal, Advocate

Abuzar Choudhary, Social Activist, Anhad

Anand Mazgaonkar, Social Activist, Gujarat

Ananya Vajpeyi

Anil Chamadia, Journalist-Writer

Annie Raja, National General Secretary, NFIW

Anuradha Bhasin, journalist

Atul Sood, Professor, Economist

Battini Rao, Convenor, PADS

Bhavesh Bariya, Students Leader, Gujarat

Denzil Fernandes

Dev Desai, Social Activist, Anhad Gujarat

Dharam Hadvani, Student Leader, Gujarat

Dilip Simeon, historian

Dr Kush Kumar Singh, Khudai Khidmtgar

Dr. Indu Prakash Singh, President, Forum against Corruption & Threats (FACT)

Dr. Javed Malick, Academic

Dunu Roy, Hazards Centre

Faisal Khan, Khudai Khidmtgar

Fr. Cedric Prakash, Human Rights Defender, Gujarat

Gauhar Raza, Scientist, Poet

Githa Hariharan, Writer

Harsh Kapoor, Independent Researcher

Harsh Mander, writer, social activist

Irfan Engineer, Director, Centre for Study of Society and Secularism

Joe Athialy, social activist

John Dayal, journalist

Joy Sengupta, Actor

Justice BG Kolse Patil, retd

Kamal Chenoy, academic

Kavita Krishnan, AIPWA

Kripal Singh Mandloi, Khudai Khidmtgar

Leena Dabiru, Social Activist

Madhuresh Kumar, NAPM

Mahesh Pandya, Gujarat Social Watch

Mallika Sarabhai, Artist (Dancer)

Mariam Dhawale, General Secretary, AIDWA

Mario Noronha, Secretary, Federation of Catholic Associations of Archdiocese of Delhi

Medha Patkar, Narmada Bachao Andolan

MMP Singh, retired academic

Nandini Rao, feminist activist

Nandini Sundar, Sociologist, Delhi

Nandita Narain, former President DUTA and FEDCUTA

Navsharan Singh, social activist

ND Jayaprakash, social activist

Noorjahan Diwan, Social Activist, Anhad , Gujarat

Pamela Philipose, journalist

Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, journalist

Prabir Purkayastha, Editor, Newsclick

Prof Chaman Lal

Prof Prabhat Patnaik, economist

Prof. Hemant Shah, Economist, Gujarat

Prof. Mansi Shah, CEPT University

Prof. Navdeep Mathur, IIM Ahmedabad

Pushkar Raj, PUCL

Rakhi Sehgal, Labour Researcher and Activist

Rekha Awasthi, academic

Shabnam Hashmi, Anhad

Shashwati Mazumdar, academic

Sohail Hashmi, historian, filmmaker

Sukumar Muralidharan, journalist

Tarun Sagar, Social Worker, Anhad

Utpal Kant Anis, PhD Scholar Gujarat

Vijayan MJ, Pakistan India Peoples' Forum for Peace & Democracy (India Chapter)

Vipin Tripathi, Sadbhav Mission

Wilfred Dcosta, Indian Social Action Forum – INSAF

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