Violence in Delhi: civil rights group demands release of 2 Jamia students arrested by police

NEW DELHI: A civil rights group on Monday condemned the arrest of two students in connection with the Delhi riots and accused the police of abusing the COVID-19 confinement to silence those who oppose government policies.

In a statement released by 'Hum Bharat Ke Log', which has been signed for 26 civil rights, the group called the arrests arbitrary.

Meeran Haider of Chhatra Rashtriya Janata Dal was arrested on April 2, while Safoora Zargar of the Jamia Coordination Committee was arrested on April 11.

This is a time when the nation needs to focus on the health and hunger crisis across our land; when our priorities should be to stand together to fight this virus, the group said in the statement. At a time when locked-in citizens cannot fully exercise their democratic rights, it is the moral duty of governments to protect themselves against any abuse of power by the state, he added. The statement stated that there is an open communalization of the pandemic and attacks against students and activists by state agencies.

We condemn the witch hunt by the Delhi Police Special Cell against activists and students who were at the forefront of the democratic uprising against CAA/NRC/NPR, the statement added.

Several activists such as Gul Inquilabi, many Muslim youths from northeast Delhi and students from Jamia are being questioned by the Special Cell every day in the midst of this closure, the statement said.

Now there is an attempt to implicate them in bogus cases related to the Delhi violence ... Now, by weaving fictional narratives about the Delhi police, it is abusing the COVID-19 lockdown to silence and arrest those who oppose government policies, with the Hope this Abuse of state power will not be reported, without news coverage or democratic protest, the statement said.

Jailing activists and students in bogus cases amid the pandemic puts their lives at risk and with the courts functioning only partially due to the closure, those arrested are denied adequate legal assistance, he said.

Calling the arrests attempts to unleash fear within the large, young democratic opposition that had sprung up across the country against CAA/NRC/NPR, the statement called for the immediate and unconditional release of the activists.

Signatories include Yogendra Yadav, Anjali Bhardawaj, Annie Raja, Teesta Setalvad, Kavita Krishnan, Medha Patkar, and Umar Khalid.