The below text is a transcription of Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) chief and Loksabha member Thol Thirumavalavan’s speech delivered in the protest conference (online) against witch-hunting of anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) on 12 June. The speech was delivered in Tamil and it is a translated version.
I gain consolation from participating in this online protest organized by the Popular Front of India and their student wing. Even as this pandemic of COVID-19 is wreaking havoc across the country, those in power in India are treating minorities in the most inhumane manner. This is both shocking and worrying. When the entire world is nervously facing the killer virus, when we are reeling under an economic crisis like never before, and when we are a point in time when it is imperative to realize that humanity is most vital, it is shocking that the Indian Government is indulging in political vendetta against the nation’s minorities.
Protests against CAA-NRC-NPR burst forth all over the country. Lakhs of Muslims, especially women and children, came to the streets to raise their rightful voice against these laws. As democratic forces, we also stood by them on the field.
Now, using the cover of the pandemic, the government is identifying all those who vigorously organized and participated in the protests and is arresting and imprisoning them. We hear that efforts are on to make such a list even in Tamil Nadu. We hear reports that they are targeting youngsters who have been working in support of Palani Baba. On a national level, Muslim youth, women, students are being targeted and hunted. Cases are being filed on the very people who were affected by the riots.
In the Delhi pogroms that took place in North-East Delhi, the people who were affected the most are Muslims. Their homes were burnt, many, many of them were murdered. The official death toll varies greatly from the real death toll—all fact-finding reports mention this. I went directly to the affected areas along with comrades of our party. Muslims are having false cases foisted upon them, they are targeted using non-bailable offenses.
While it remains that several women have been affected, I wish to point out three of them in particular. Ishrat Jahan, she was arrested, and they have filed an attempt to murder case against her. Gulfisha has a sedition case filed on her. And 27-year-old research student Safoora Zargar, who is also three-months pregnant, is in prison. She was arrested on the basis of the charge that she was involved in road roko, but she has been denied bail three times. It shows a systematic targeting of women. They are being kept in prison by foisting numerous cases upon them. Modi’s government is perpetuating this cruelty to ensure that they cannot come out at all. They are using the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) against college and university students because they organized protests against the CAA-NRC-NPR. One has to also remember Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita here. In Bangalore, a 19-year-old girl was arrested under the sedition act for raising the slogan Pakistan Zindabad (along with several similar Zindabad slogans)—and she was kept in prison for 119 days. Only now she is out on bail, and the basis for the bail is also because of procedural errors.
Likewise, the case of comrades in Assam. Bittu Sonawal is the aide of Akhil Gogoi, the leader of a peasant’s organization. He has a case filed under the UAPA against him because he used the words “Lal Salaam“ and “Comrade“. They are portraying him as a terrorist on the basis of retrieving a copy of the Communist Manifesto from his home. They have filed this charge sheet on 29 May 2020.
Then, there is the case of Umar Khalid, Khalid Saifi, and Tahir Husain. Because they were very active in organizing these protests, they’ve also had false cases foisted upon them and are facing imprisonment. We can give several instances in this manner. Many countless young Muslim men, young women, students, women who are not affiliated to any political organization are being targeted and are being subject to investigation by the National Investigative Agency (NIA) and are being arrested under the UAPA so that they cannot even come out on bail.
In the Bhima Koregaon case, they have imprisoned Dr. Anand Teltumbde and Varavara Rao on the basis that they had conspired to assassinate Modi. There is no evidence, no documents, no basis, nothing to confirm this. They claim to have seized a letter to this effect. But they have used this trumped-up charge to arrest several people in the Bhima Koregaon case, and they are all languishing in jail today. Just as they have filed cases on these comrades, they are also targetting intellectuals and individuals (who do not belong to any organization) who sought to expose the religious fascism of the ruling powers. They are being labeled as Maoists and are being jailed.
Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) strongly condemns these actions of the Modi Government. We condemn this fascist attitude of the Modi government which is targeting Muslims, arresting them, and undertaking steps that destroy their lives. We will always stand against fascism. We shall always stand together with democratic forces like you.