The Aligarh Sessions Court granted bail to student activist and independent scholar Sharjeel Usmani who has been arrested by Uttar Pradesh police on 9 July related to four cases of anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests in Aligarh Muslim University campus on 15 December last year.
“I extend my sincere thanks to everyone who has stood beside me in the most difficult times,” Usmani who walked out of jail on Monday told Maktoob over the phone.
“It’s good to be free, last two months were quite an experience,” he said.
“Alhamdulillah (thank God), Sharjeel bhai has been released from Aligarh Jail and has reached his home safely,” Usmani’s brother Areeb Usmani tweeted.
23-year-old Usmani had been arrested by UP’s anti-terrorist squad and charged under sections of the Indian Penal Code for rioting and attempt to murder at AMU on 15 December—he is alleged to have snatched cartridges from a police officer during violence there. He has also been named in an FIR dated 6 December for sharing the illustration of a senior politician on social media.
Usmani, national secretary of the Fraternity Movement has been at the forefront face of the anti-CAA-NRC-NPR protests and vocal critic of the BJP led the Hindu nationalist government.
Former Aligarh Muslim University student Usmani was flagged by OpIndia, a right-wing propaganda web portal for his dissenting views and solidarity social media post for Sharjeel Imam.
Usmani is an independent researcher and has contributed articles to Firstpost, DailyO, Maktoob, and Newslaundry.
International human rights watchdogs including Amnesty International, Committee to Protect Journalists and Human Rights Watch and civil society groups, teachers associations, student organizations, and filmmakers across India had issued different statements calling for the release of Sharjeel Usmani and anti-CAA activists who were ‘targetted by Hindu nationalist government for protesting anti-Muslim laws’ and ‘arrested under false accusations by State.’