UP police’s Hathras conspiracy case is reminiscent of Bhima Koregaon, Delhi riot cases: Public statement by 36 organisations

Condemning the arrests of journalists and activists under draconian UAPA for demanding justice in the case of the brutal gangrape of the Dalit woman in Hathras, the Campaign Against State Repression demands the withdrawal of the case against them, the immediate release of Atikur Rahman, national treasurer of Campus Front of India (CFI), Masud Khan, CFI Delhi general secretary and senior journalist Siddique Kappan, secretary of Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) Delhi unit and Alam, the car driver and action against the perpetrators of the horrific rape.

“The efforts of the Uttar Pradesh government appear to be to destroy evidence, scuttle the case and protect the perpetrators, dominant caste men of the Thakur community. The targeting of Muslim activists and journalists is a wanton effort to deflect blame, colour the case and shield the real perpetrators,” reads a statement issued by Campaign Against State Repression, a platform with over 36 organisations, including democratic rights organisations, student’s organisations, teacher’s organisations, trade unions and women’s organisations, who have come together against increasing state repression, targeting of academics, activists, journalists, lawyers, trade unionists and all such voices of democracy.

The orgainsations said the charge of Hathras conspiracy is reminiscent of the Bhima Koregaon-Elgaar Parishad case and the North East Delhi pogrom.

Campaign Against State Repression demands the release of all political prisoners and the repeal of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

Read the unedited text of the statement:

The Campaign Against State Repression (CASR) condemns the arrests of activists Atiq-ur-Rehman, Masood Ahmed and Alamand journalist Siddique Kappan by the Uttar Pradesh police under the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). Theywere picked upfrom Mathura on October 7thwhile on their way to Hathras to meet the family of the deceased dalit woman gangraped by dominant caste menonSeptember 14th. The arrest of Atiq, Masood, Alam and Siddique occurred against the backdrop of UP police filing 19 FIRs,some containingcharges of sedition under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, against unknown persons for social media posts questioning the state government’s response to the horrific incident of the gangrape of a dalit woman belonging to the landless Valmiki caste in Hathrasby dominant landed Thakur men and several more rapes that occurred in the state of UP since.

The open support of the rape accused by officials of the UP government and the ruling Bhartiya Janta Party and the round-the-clock efforts of the UP Police to shield them has drawn severe criticism towards the UP Government. Chief Minister Ajay Mohan Bisht, a Thakurself-styled as Yogi Adityanath, has come under scrutiny. That the cremation of the body of thewoman after she succumbed to her injuries was hurriedly done in the dead of night and without her family’s permissionindicate thatefforts were made to destroy evidence, scuttle the case and protect the perpetrators. The release of contentious reports denying rape based on tests done weeks after the incidentdespite the woman’s dying declaration revealing both the brutal assault and its perpetratorspoint todeep-rooted Brahmanical patriarchy that negates the voice of women of oppressed castes and communitiesin order to protect dominant caste men. The callousness of State forces was further revealed by the ways in which the police dealt with those who dared to condemn its high-handedness.Political leaders, journalists and activists have been targeted, thousandsdetained and cases filed againsthundreds who have protested the treatment meted out to thedalit woman and her family.Denying journalists, sympathisers and others access to family members, forced confinement of the family to their home, surveillance of family members and journalists reporting on the case andthreats issued by senior officials to thefamilyall mark the intentions of the authorities.Meanwhile, the police haveencouraged the mobilisation of support for the perpetrators by permitting large gatherings of the Savarna Parishad, a conglomeration of dominant caste groups,that has held several meetings in Hathras.Furthermore, the open threats issued by leaders of the Savarna Parishad against those condemning the rape remain uninvestigated.These tactics are similar to those deployed at Kathua and Unnao where the perpetrators, BJP leaders belonging to dominant castes, were protected and even feted.

Day by day the façade of democracy slips ever lower as the crudest and most brutal displays of Brahmanical supremacy of dominant caste groups is flaunted without restraint. In the face of increasing protests, the UP government under CM Bisht has concocted plots claiming an ‘international conspiracy’ to defame the government by the family of the deceased dalit woman and those standing by them. Remarkably, the possession of pamphlets by Muslim activists and journalists asking for ‘Justice for Hathras Victim’ is being bandied as evidence of a “big conspiracy” to foment communal discord.The arrest of Atiq, Masood, Alam and Siddique under the draconian UAPAfor conspiracyis reminiscent of tacticsdeployed in the Bhima Koregaon-Elgaar Parishad case and the North East Delhi pogrom. The targeting of Chandrasekhar Azad ‘Raavan’ by dominant caste groups and charges filed against him for violating COVID-19 protocols by meeting the aggrieved family stand in sharp contrast to the protection provided to BJP ministers hosting gatherings in their homes in support of the perpetrators and their families.Incidentally, the recent arrest of dalit journalist Prashant Kanojia for an alleged social media postshows that anything unpalatable for the CM Bisht can be construed as illegal.While conspiracy theories abound in mainstreammedia, CM Bisht has systematically targeted those belonging to the most marginalised castes, classes and communities. This is being done to silence those challenging the status of dominant caste groups even as the RSS-BJP project of establishing a Hindu Rashtra is underway.

It is clear that the targeting of Muslim journalists and activists is not enough; the most marginalised must be reminded of the brute force of those in power and the consequences of daring to speak out. All appearances of democracyhave been foregone to protect the fragile masculinity of a self-styled yogi and his agents against constructed enemies, be they Muslims, Dalits, workers, peasants, women or ‘foreign agents’, effectively otherising the marginalised communities and serving the project of Hindutva.In light of this, Campaign Against State Repression urges all progressive and democratic sections of our society to unite and condemn these arrests of Atiq, Masood, Alam and Siddique by the UP government, demand the dropping of cases against those protesting the treatment meted out to the family of the deceased dalitwoman and action against the perpetrators of the brutal gangrape. Campaign Against State Repression stands by all the voices of democracy opposing Brahmanical Hindutva fascism.

Campaign Against State Repression

(Organising Team: AISA, AISF, APCR, BCM, Bhim Army, Bigul Mazdoor Dasta, BSCEM, CEM, CRPP, CTF, Disha, DISSC, DSU, DTF, IAPL, IMK, Karnataka Janashakti, KYS, Lokpaksh, LSI, Mazdoor AdhikarSangathan, Mazdoor Patrika, MehnatkashMahilaSangathan, MorchaPatrika, NAPM, NBS, NCHRO, Nowruz, NTUI, People’s Watch, RihaiManch, Samajwadi Janparishad, Satyashodak Sangh, SFI, United Against Hate, WSS)