Saturday, December 9, 2023

Aligarh University student leader Farhan Zuberi arrested, sparks concerns of crackdown on dissent

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Farhan Zuberi, a doctoral fellow at Aligarh Muslim University, was arrested by the Aligarh Police on Friday, 22 September. Zuberi had also been a prominent student union leader at the university, actively involved in leading protests against Hindu nationalist policies.

Imran Zuberi, Farhan Zuberi’s brother, told Maktoob that their family is completely unaware of the reasons behind Zuberi’s arrest.

Imran said, “Farhan has consistently advocated for student issues and matters related to justice.” He went on to say, “It’s evident that this government is cracking down on dissenters. They seem intolerant of any criticism or questioning, and Farhan is certainly a prominent dissenting voice.”

Imran said that they have not been provided with a reason for his arrest yet. He added, “We will fight legally to secure his release as swiftly as possible.”

Imran informed Maktoob that the police have shifted him to the Civil Lines police station.

Mrigank Shikhar Pathak, Additional Superintendent of Police in Aligarh City, informed Maktoob, “There was an outstanding arrest warrant against him related to a long-pending case from June 2023.”

When asked about details of the case, the officer said: “He is accused in a case of dragging and beating a man inside the university campus.”

He added, “According to the FIR filed by the complainant, there were others accused as well who were arrested in June, and Farhan Zuberi was the remaining to be apprehended. Now, he has been arrested.”

Zuberi has been booked in several sections of IPC including 147, 148, 384, 323, 304, 307, etc, officer said.

Student activists at AMU perceive this recent arrest as an attempt to stifle dissenting voices in anticipation of the 2024 elections.

Haider Ali, a philosophy student, said: “I’m unsure about the specific case the UP police has taken him in, but their intentions are clear. They aim to instill fear in the notion of questioning and intend to teach students that there will be consequences if they choose to resist.”

Zuberi was previously arrested in May 2020 in connection with the protests against the National Population Register (NPR), National Register of Citizens (NRC), and the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 (CAA).

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