A group of students who study at prominent institutions including Jawaharlal Nehru University and Indian Institute of Technology Delhi and hail from Bihar have written an open letter to Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav and urged him to demand the release of arrested student leaders Sharjeel Imam and Meeran Haider. Sharjeel Imam, a resident of Kako village of Jehanabad in Bihar, and Meeran Haider, a resident of Barharia of Siwan in Bihar were arrested under draconian UAPA for taking part in protests against the new citizenship matrix.
Read the unedited full text of letter:
Leader of RJD (Rashtriya Janata Dal)
We are writing to you on behalf of the student community of Bihar, studying at eminent universities of India, including Jawaharlal Nehru University, IIT Delhi.
Our friend, colleague, brother Sharjeel Imam has been incarcerated from the past 8 months on various charges as grave as sedition, UA(P)A & Hate Speech on the basis of a cropped video run on various mainstream media channels to propel a narrative built around Muslims as a community posing a threat to the nation’s security which of course is a false claim that has costed injuries and lives of various Indian Muslims from a long time. We believe RJD too will disagree with this narrative built around a Minority community. Our friend, Sharjeel Imam is one of the first protestors against the Unconstitutional Citizenship Amendment Act from the state of Bihar. His words & call for a Road Blockade, ‘Chakka Jaam’ have been misconstructed by the state and the media resulting in him being heavily charged with gruesome laws that he does not deserves to be charged with. What causes us even more pain and disappointment is your silence and the RJD in general on the false incarceration of Bihari Muslim Students, not limited to Sharjeel Imam but including Meeran Haider as well, a student of Jamia Millia Islamia University who has been vocal in the Anti-CAA Protests. The absence of any support and mobilisation for Meeran Haider is even more astounding given that he is a known people’s person as well as an office bearer of the RJD’s student wing. Thus, it strikes us curious as to why the RJD, a group given to upholding democratic ethos of justice and liberty, has remained silent on this onslaught against academics and scholars and leaders, particularly those who belong to its own constituencies.
Sharjeel Imam and Meeran Haider have both brought various achievements bringing a good name to the State of Bihar. Sharjeel Imam is an excellent academician, student, historian & journalist whose credentials are not unknown to the world. Sharjeel has always been vocal through his academic writings on the issues of those sections of the society that have been historically suppressed be it the Pasmanda community, the dalits, the suppression of free speech in a democratic country like India — irrespective of the religion, caste, class or gender of the oppressed section.
Meeran Haider has been a popular leader who has never been silent on speaking for the marginalised. He was involved in doing relief work as a community leader for people affected in the mis-administered COVID-19 lockdown before he was charged with such brutal and fabricated cases.
RJD has always sought to champion the cause of Social Justice which we believe also includes dignified treatment of minorities in the state of Bihar, but your deafening silence on the false and inhumane incarceration of Muslim Students who belong to Bihar is a matter of concern for not just Students belonging to the Minority Community of Bihar but also to the families and residents of Bihar that have been looking at RJD as a potential opposition to the ruling government and as an answer to the divisive and undemocratic politics of the government. Today, RJD seems to have forgotten it’s strong past including Lalu Prasad Yadav’s Anti-Communal stance in 1992. But the sons of Bihar, Sharjeel Imam and Meeran Haider have raised their voices against the suppression by the current government while not possessing any power other than the power of truthfulness and courage. The Muslim community in Bihar has supported RJD for a long time, its unsupportive silence has become a cause of worry for it. Lalu Prasad Yadav has been unrelenting in his criticism of RSS and continues to be so. At the time when the nation was struck silent with the destruction of the Babri, he stood tall with his resounding refusal to bow and valiantly took a stand that will be remembered for generations. Similarly, as India once again stands at the precipice of democracy, a test that majority of India is failing, it is Sharjeel Imam who stood with immense courage against the tide and spoke relentlessly against the systemic denial of justice to Muslims and was audacious enough to stand before the country and demand justice, and nothing less. We must not forgot that Sharjeel and Meeran belong to the vibrant youth of Bihar who have a powerful history and continuing presence of shaking the very thrones of injustice in Bihar and the rest of the country when those in power deny the people their rights.
Hence, we wish to call you out and urge you to raise your voice against the Media Trial and falsely constructed narrative of a Bihari Muslim Students’ Sharjeel Imam’s call for a Chakka Jaam as seditious and the blatant criminalisation of Jamia scholar and well known activist, Meeran Haider. We urge you to break silence on this trial of falsely implicating Muslim Students from Bihar in cases of no substantial value and assure the Muslim Minority Community in Bihar that you will stand by them in their fight for dignity and equality. We urge you to break your silence on this attack against the lives, aspirations and dignity of minorities across the country. We urge you to look into this matter and remind us of the historical legacy of justice that RJD is emblematic of and demand the release of these incarcerated scholars.
Students of Bihar