“I hope he would be allowed to call us on Eid,” laments Meeran’s family who haven’t heard from him since 4 May when he was connected for a minute.
Meeran Haider, a student leader from Jamia Millia Islamia university in Delhi, is among dozens of Muslim activists who will be behind bars during the extraordinary Eid amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
Meeran is booked under India’s controversial terror law- UAPA in the FIR for Northeast Delhi violence case. Safoora Zargar, Asif Iqbal Tanha and Shifa Ur Rehman, who were a part of the Jamia Coordination Committee with Meeran were also sent in Tihar jail in the same case.
Jamia Coordination Committee – JCC steered the Anti-CAA protest outside the university campus which became the epicentre of the Anti-CAA protest, challenged the new anti-Muslim Citizenship law amendment.
Visits to Tihar jail went in vain for Meeran’s family due to corona guidelines. 12 April is the last time his lawyer saw him, the family told Maktoob.
Meeran Haider and Safoora Zargar spent their Ramadan in Tihar jail as all attempts to bail was rejected. Imprisoning Safoora Zargar, who is in second-trimester of her pregnancy, erupted criticism against Delhi police for inhumane treatment.
Human rights defenders and civil liberty groups have called the arrest of dissenters a ‘political vendetta’ by the ruling BJP party.
‘Safoora is an inspiration’
Safoora Zargar, a 27-year-old sociology student of Jamia, have been arrested on 10 April accusing her of being a conspirator that led to ‘riot’ in late February in Northeast Delhi killing 53 people predominantly Muslims.
“Sometimes I feel that we have failed her as friends, as sisters in this fight,” Aysha, who befriended Safoora during the protest, pities herself. Safoora was in charge of media works in JCC.
“The day before she got arrested she told me this is going to be a long struggle,” Aysha recollects. Many online campaigns have been carried out by Jamia students demanding the release of the jailed activists.
Many students of Jamia have been summoned and interrogated by police during the lockdown, despite corona scare. Student activists are going ‘low profile’ due to police surveillance and arrest of dozens of Anti-CAA protesters.
“It feels terrible to celebrate eid when some of the close friends are in jail for no reason,” Aysha adds.
“Although things are going in despair, family looks at the judiciary as the last resort,” sources close to the family told Maktoob.
United Against Hate activist Khaild Saifi, MBA student and Jafrabad anti-CAA protest coordinator Gulfisha, Congress leader and former Delhi Municipality councillor Ishrat Jahan and anti-CAA activist Shadab are other activists who are in jail for in the same FIR. JNU student Umar Khalid who is named in the FIR is yet to summon to police as he is stuck outside Delhi due to lockdown.
Asif Tanha, the latest target
Asif Iqbal Tanha became the latest student to be arrested from Jamia in Northeast Delhi violence case. Asif, who was first sent to judicial custody for his role in anti-CAA protest in South Delhi’s Jamia Nagar on 15 December last year, later found himself charged with UAPA for Northeast Delhi violence.
“Few days before he was arrested, I saw a dream of visiting Asif in jail. I was in tears when I shared it to Asif. Asif calmly replied he was ready for jail” wrote Abul Ala, president to Students Islamic Organization of India (SIO) Delhi in his Eid message.
Asif’s family was in Jarkhand, the eastern state of India, who looks up to Abul Ala to get through the difficult phase.
“Asif wants the struggle to continue. All these framings against students prove that the government is hit by our protest” Ramees EK, a colleague of Asif points out.
“Eid has become a celebration of resistance,” Ramees adds.
Sharjeel Imam, student of JNU who initiated the historic Shaheen Bagh protest sit-in, is also jailed in Delhi with several cases against him in five states for a speech which he called for a road blockade as a method of protest against CAA.
Fayiza CA is a student of Media Governance at Jamia Millia Islamia.