A group of 1337 scholars, rights activists, politicians, and cultural activists has condemned the Delhi Police for interrogating Prof. Apoorvanand, a well-known writer, public speaker, and Delhi University professor in connection with northeast Delhi violence.
“This is not a normal enquiry or police business as usual. It is part of a clear strategy by the Delhi Police to present protests against the CAA as a conspiracy to plan and stage the communal riots that shook Delhi in late February. This, in turn, is part of the larger design to shut down all dissent in the country so that no one dares question authority,” the joint statement released on Thursday said.
On August 3, 2020 the Special Branch of the Delhi Police called in Prof. Apoorvanand, where he spent 5 hours, for an interrogation. The professor said his phone has been seized for investigation.
Apoorvanand was summoned for questioning as the police claimed to have found links with the students’ outfit, Pinjra Tod, and with a WhatsApp group called the ‘Delhi Protests Support Group (DPSG)’.
Professor has been summoned under section 43F of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, or UAPA.
“This comes close on the heels of the interrogation of many other activists,” those who condemned the Delhi Police action said in the statement.
According to the statement, public figures like Prof. Apoorvanand, and many others, known for their unwavering stand against violence and the politics of hate, are being targeted for their dissenting views.
“This is all being done under the absurd pretext that these were the “masterminds” who instigated the Delhi riots. By attempting to silence people like this, the government intends a chilling effect on all democratic dissent and discourse; if this is permitted, the chilling effect will be nationwide and it could be irreversible,” the activists and academicians said.
The statement further reads: “A day when authorities feel free to haul in the nation’s leading public voices to police stations, merely because they speak against the policies and ideology of the ruling government, is a day we must all be deeply concerned. Also, a day when we must overcome all fear, to stand up for each individual’s right to disagree, dissent, and thereby deepen our democracy. For this democracy today faces its most serious crisis since independence, far more critical than Indira Gandhi’s Emergency 45 years ago. As concerned citizens who love and value our democracy, and our country, we must speak out before it is too late and all voices of freedom are silenced forever.”
“Over the past several months, students, activists, writers, artists, journalists, and other public persons who participated in the anti-CAA protests have been targeted for repeated inquiries, and many have been arrested,” they said.
Under the omnibus FIR 59 of 2020 alone, more than 17 arrests have taken place already under the UAPA, and over two hundred have been arrested under sections of the IPC.
The activists also said that the intense activity of the Delhi Police in pursuing this line of inquiry is in marked contrast to their inaction in investigating leaders associated with the BJP who were seen inciting violence on public television.
They demanded that this systematic harassment of voices critical of the government and the blatant misuse of the law and the state apparatus be stopped immediately.