Fraternity Movement demands cases against Sharjeel Usmani be revoked

The Fraternity Movement on Friday condemned the hate campaigns and registration of FIRs against its national secretary Sharjeel Usmani after he delivered a speech at Elgar Parishad 2021, saying “these perpetual hate campaigns are intended to languish the vocal Muslim youth in jail permanently.”

The students’ body’s national committee in a statement demanded that the cases be rescinded.

The Pune Police on Tuesday booked Usmani under Section 153 (A) of the Indian Penal Code, at the Swargate Police Station in Pune. On Thursday, another FIR under several charges, including sedition, has been registered against him in Lucknow’s Hazratganj police station. Both cases are in connection with his speech at 2021’s edition of Elgar Parishad and based on the complaints of BJP leaders.

In an official note, Fraternity Movement has demanded to take appropriate actions to bring down the hate campaigns against Usmani immediately.

The students’ body claimed that Usmani’s leadership roles in anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) movement had made him a thorn in the flesh of the fascist state.

Usmani was arrested by the Uttar Pradesh Police last year for taking part in protests against the proposed NRC and CAA in Aligarh Muslim University on 15 December. He is currently out on bail.

“Despite the attempt to silence him by incarceration, he continued his fierce criticism against the Fascist rule, hence becoming a threat to the Hindutva government,” Fraternity Movement said.

“Now his speech at Elgar Parishad, wherein he called out the radicalisation of the Hindu communities in India and suggested how that must be addressed if we are to fight this fascist regime, has once again made him the target of media trial and legal actions. The program was organised to call out the deeply rooted casteism, Islamophobia, patriarchy and croney capitalism in the country,” the students’ body’s statement reads.

Following the anti-Muslim campaigns against Usmani by saffron party over his speech at Elgar Parishad,
former Maharashtra CM and senior BJP politician Devendra Fadnavis had written a letter to Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray demanding action against Usmani.

The Maharashtra state government too appears invested in the case against Usmani. State home minister Anil Deshmukh said on Wednesday that Usmani will be arrested “no matter where he is”.

Deshmukh, in a tweet, said, “Police have investigated the video clippings of the Elgar event held on 30th in Pune & a case has been registered against Sharjeel Usmani for his offensive remarks. He is not currently in Maharashtra but we will arrest him from whichever state he is in be it Bihar, UP, Gujarat or elsewhere.”

In an editorial published on Thursday, titled ‘Sharjilala Bedya Padtil! Nishhint Raha!’ (Sharjeel will be arrested, dont worry), Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamana also assured readers that Usmani, will be arrested.

“Sharjeel Usmani has been a vocal voice of dissent against the right wing regime and consequently has been on the target list of RSS, BJP and other hindutva forces,” Fraternity Movement further said.

The Elgaar Parishad was organised in Pune on January 30 by Bhima Koregaon Shaurya Din Prerna Abhiyaan on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Rohit Vemula. The Parishad has become an important event for the last three years after the Maharashtra Police accused its organisers – a coalition of 250 anti-caste and human rights organisations – of allegedly instigating violence in Pune’s Bhima Koregaon area on January 1, 2018.

Besides Usmani, other key speakers at the Parishad this year included author Arundhati Roy, former IAS officer Kannan Gopinathan, journalist Prashant Kanojia, Dalit activist Satyabhama Suryawanshi, student activist Aysha Renna, family members of Payal Tadvi, Sanjiv Bhatt and Rohit Vemula, retired High Court judge BG Kolse Patil and retired Indian Police Services officer SM Mushrif, among others.

Read the full text of speech.

Watch Usmani’s full speech here: