Time for political unity, opposition MPs against arresting anti-CAA activists

Four-time MP from Uttar Pradesh Shafiqur Rahman Barq said that the Indian Constitution has given the right to everybody to express or to agitate against the government’s policies.

There’s a need for a united political movement to oppose BJP government’s witch-hunting of students and activists, said a joint press conference, attended online by parliamentarians from parties Congress, SP, BSP, RJD, TMC, NCP Muslim League and CPI, where they came together to speak against the “framing Anti-CAA Activists under false charges” on 1 June.

The speakers were Samajwadi Party leader and veteran parliamentarian Shafiqur Rahman Barq Indian Union Muslim League leader E. T. Mohammed Basheer MP, Communist Party of India national secretary and former MP D Raja, Bahujan Samaj Party’s MPs Kunwar Danish Ali, Haji Fazlur Rehman, Rashtriya Janata Dal MP Manoj Jha, Nationalist Congress Party MP Majeed Memon, Congress leader Syed Naseer Hussain MP, All India Trinamool Congress MP Nadimul Haque.

In the national capital, police have been arresting student leaders and rights activists during coronavirus pandemic controlled lockdown, linking their anti-CAA protests to the Delhi pogrom.

Delhi Police arrested Jamia Millia Islamia student leaders Meeran Haider Safoora Zargar, Asif Iqbal Tanha, Jawaharlal Nehru University student and Pinjra Tod activist Natasha Narwal, former Delhi Municipal Councillor Ishrat Jahan, Gulfisha, an MBA student and a coordinator of the women-led sit-in in Seelampur-Jafrabad against CAA, the president of the Alumni Association of Jamia Millia Islamia (AAJMI) Shifa-Ur-Rehman, Aam Admi Party leader Tahir Hussain, United Against Hate activist Khalid Saifi under UAPA charges in Northeast Delhi violence case. Another JNU student and Pinjra Tod activist Devangana Kalita is also in jail with several charges.

“Delay in lodging FIRs puts a serious burden on the prosecution, and as a lawyer, I have got offenses disproved (because of) the fact that the FIR was not filed in time…,” NCP leader Majeed Memon questioned the Delhi police’s intent in not filing FIRs against BJP politicians Kapil Mishra and Anurag Thakur who had made hate speeches against Muslims in the run-up to the Delhi pogrom.

While criticizing the police actions in Delhi against anti-CAA activists, D Raja said that the home minister, whom the Delhi police report to, must be held accountable for all that the Delhi police are doing.

Four-time MP from Uttar Pradesh Shafiqur Rahman Barq said that the Indian Constitution has given the right to everybody to express or to agitate against the government’s policies and he demanded the immediate release of the protesting students who were arrested with false charges.

“We did nothing except exercising our fundamental right. It is our duty to save India,” he added.

“In India, we are in a situation where we see people being lynched or tortured or killed every day, for the simple reason that they belong to one particular religion,” Congress MP Syed Naseer Hussain said.

Hussain also said that “every person with democratic values must rise against these killings and arrests”.

“Many ministers of the ruling dispensation right now hailed from student political parties during their days. How can they stop it now?” he asked while highlighting the arrests of students from Jamia Millia Islamia and Jawaharlal Nehru University under draconian UAPA charges.

“Please don’t be under the impression that if you book or arrest a few people who are leading this movement, the movement will died on. For every Safoora, there will hundreds and thousands of people who will rise again the fascist tendency of the government and draconian laws,” Congress leader said.

Muslim League MP E. T. Mohammed Basheer said that the protests against discriminatory laws should continue.

Criticizing the arrests of the student activists, RJD MP and former Delhi University Professor Manoj Jha stated: “The brazen manner in which Delhi police is operating during the pandemic is atrocious. Even the courts are not functioning currently. The entire manner in which anti-CAA protests have been linked with the Delhi riots shows how a narrative is intentionally being manufactured to fit the domain.”

He urged fellow politicians to act immediately to give hope to those being prosecuted. “We need to send a message to all the activists that your fight is a constitutional fight. … we won’t allow your lives to be wasted.”

BSP leader Fazlur Rehman MP accused the governments of arresting more than 40,000 people in recent times across the country and said that “such arrests, especially during the pandemic, are nothing but a part of the shameless tactics to distract people from the government’s failure in containing the epidemic.”

“When the Supreme Court itself issued directions for the release of prisoners due to the pandemic, why are such rampant arrests being made?” he further asked.

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