Responding to the continuing imprisonment of Muslim student activist Atikur Rahman under the draconian UAPA solely for peacefully exercising his human rights and despite his deteriorating health condition, Amensty International India said Rahman’s arbitrary detention must end.
“It is a travesty for the Indian authorities to keep Atikur Rahman in detention for almost two years on bogus charges solely for peacefully exercising his human rights. It seems the authorities are on a vindictive quest to further crush him by making his life unbearable, including by denying and delaying his medical treatment. Rahman should not have been detained in the first place. His arbitrary detention must end,”said Aakar Patel, chair of board for Amnesty International India.
The global rights watchdog’s statement comes day after Rahman who was under treatment at a hospital in Lucknow since 29 August after his health deteriorated, was arbitrarily sent back to Lucknow jail despite having critical health issues.
Patel said: “Rahman must be released immediately and all politically motivated charges against him dropped. Pending his release, the Indian authorities must ensure that his detention conditions are improved in line with international standards and that he has immediate and regular access to his family and any healthcare he may require. Subjecting Rahman to inhumane conditions and failing to provide adequate medical treatment is a human rights violation.”
Two years ago, on 5 October 2020, Atikur Rahman along with journalist Siddique Kappan, Jamia Millia Islamia student Masood Ahmad and taxi driver Mohammad Alam was arrested in Mathura in Uttar Pradesh. They were on their way to meet the family of a Dalit woman who was raped and murdered by a group of men from the dominant Hindu caste in Hathras.
The Uttar Pradesh police charged them with ‘sedition’, ‘promoting enmity between groups’, ‘outraging religious feelings’ and ‘criminal conspiracy’ under the Indian Penal Code and ‘raising funds for terrorist act’ and ‘conspiring to commit a terrorist act’ under the UAPA.
In November 2021, Rahman was admitted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi for an open-heart surgery after his family filed a writ petition in the Allahabad High Court.
Since March 2022, he has been hospitalised multiple times. His medical documents state in addition to an existing heart ailment, he has now developed a neurological disease. The left side of his body has been paralyzed and he suffers from memory loss.
Rahman’s wife Sanjida Rahman said to Maktoob that Atikur Rahman’s left side has completely paralyzed and he is no longer able to recognize anyone. “He didn’t even recognize his sons on the video call. My sons keep asking if he’ll ever recognize them again,” she said.
Atikur Rahman was a Ph.D. student at Meerut’s Chaudhary Charan Singh University and also the national office bearer of Campus Front of India, a student movement. He was also active during the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests.