The mother of Muslim student activist Atikur Rahman imprisoned in Uttar Pradesh under draconian UAPA in connection with the Hathras conspiracy case is calling on the authorities to release her son immediately, saying she is concerned for his life.
“As a mother, if your child detaches from you for two hours, you know how anxious you get. My son is in jail, away from me for two years,” said Raabiya, mother of Rahman.
Along with Rahman’s ailing mother, his wife Sanjida Rahman, Delhi University professor and rights activist Nandita Narain, and Campus Front of India Jamia Millia Islamia unit leaders Fouzia and Zaki Hamdan addressed the press conference at the Press Club of India on Saturday.
“We got a call on 29th August informing us that his medical condition is getting worse and asked to come to see him in Lucknow… only after we reached there we came to know his condition was miserable”, said Sanjida Rahman.
“He couldn’t make sense of anything. He was lying as if he was dead. Tell me, what is more, saddening than seeing your loved one in front of you as a dead man”, she said.
“Our children always ask me, will our father be as has been before? Will he be able to walk as he did before? Will he be able to play with us as he did before? Will he take us out as he used to do? Tell me, what answer will I give them?” Rahman’s wife asked.
Both wife and mother of Rahman broke down while speaking to the media in the national capital.
“This is the second time, he had fallen ill and been ferried to the hospital after the surgery that evince authority’s irresponsibility towards his health and care. Ever since he got arrested, the jail authority provided treatment only after continuous legal intervention and protests. They didn’t consider doctor’s advice to visit AIIMS after the surgery and regular checkup,” read a statement by Sanjida.
“Considering his ill health and the stringent charges on him, honourable Judiciary must step in urgently to save his life and grant immediate bail to get family care and medical treatment. It is uncivilised and inhuman to deny treatment to a prisoner and violation of human rights,” it added.
Four days ago, 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. He is now in jail hospital, according to sources.
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.
Responding to the continuing imprisonment of Rahman under the draconian UAPA solely for peacefully exercising his human rights and despite his deteriorating health condition, Amnesty International India on 7 September 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 the board for Amnesty International India.
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.”