We, members of Faculty Feminist Collective JNU, stand in solidarity with all wrongfully arrested students, and in particular with JNU students Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal who were arrested on 23rd May 2020 by the Delhi Police. We demand the immediate release of all those wrongfully accused of playing a role in the anti-Muslim pogrom in northeast Delhi in February 2020.
It is clear to us that this spate of arrests during the lockdown is an attempt by the government to punish the voices raised in peaceful protest against the unconstitutional CAA and proposed NPR and NRC, all of which are meant to destroy the very idea of India as a democracy.
While forces close to and constituting the current regime openly called for violence against Muslims in the days leading up to the horrific incidents of February 2020, their role has not been investigated. Instead a large number of arrests (according to media reports, 800 arrests), mostly of Muslims, has been carried out, supposedly for their responsibility for the violence in which the larger number of deaths and injuries have in fact been suffered by Muslims. Many of those arrested are students, including Safoora Zargar, Meeran Haider and Asif Iqbal Tanha of Jamia Milia Islamiya. Earlier, JNU student Sharjeel Imam was arrested for sedition for a speech at an anti- CAA protest, and the draconian UAPA has been slapped on him as well.
The ruling party has a history of violence against those who are at the margins of power, whether women, trans and queer persons, Muslims, Dalits, Adivasis, the working class, farmers or indeed, every individual who refuses the project of brahminical Hindu Rashtra. Now we find that the national lockdown which should have been used to prepare for the spike in infections that is expected when it ends, has instead functioned as a political emergency in which all democratic safeguards against state authoritarianism have been violated. The entire state machinery has been diverted towards surveillance and the framing and arrests of activists, academicians and journalists.
We reject the CAA-NPR-NRC and demand the immediate release of all political prisoners, especially given the over-crowded nature of India’s prison system and the danger of spread of the Covid 19 virus.
Chirashree Das Gupta
Mallarika Sinha Roy
Niraja Gopal Jayal