Letter to UP Administration: Women’s groups, democratic rights organisations and concerned citizens

Statement by women’s groups, democratic rights organizations and individuals

Shri Ajay Singh Bisht, The Chief Minister, UP

Shri Avnish Kumar Awasthi, Secretary, Home, UP

Dr Devendra Singh Chauhan, DGP, UP

Shri Ajay Kumar SSP, UP Police

We, the undersigned women’s organisations, democratic rights groups and individuals, write to you to strongly condemn the attempts of the Uttar Pradesh police to take into custody civil society activists who have been active in the anti-CAA struggle on the false and completely unsubstantiated claim that they were “masterminds” of the protests that happened in different parts of the country on June 9-10, 2022.

These protests were followed by police action in which several people have been injured. The police have unleashed bulldozers to demolish the homes of activists in a brazen and illegal manner. Police have filed cases against a number of people and sought to detain them and members of their families. Instead of compensating those whose houses have been unjustifiably demolished, your administration continues to take the same illegal path of throttling dissent.
In particular, we are deeply concerned with the arrest of the parents and sister of prominent student activist from JNU, Afreen Fatima, by Allahabad police. Her father, Javed Mohammed, mother Parveen Fatima and sister Sumaiya Fatima, were picked up by the Allahabad police on June 10, without any notice or warrant. Till date, there is no clarity on where Javed Mohammed has been detained, nor on the charges levelled against him. Javed Mohammed is also a national leader of Welfare Party of India.

We learn from media reports that both Parveen and Sumaiya Fatima were taken in the middle of the night to an undisclosed location with their cell phones. Today, civil society activists have traced them in a mahila thana but their family members are not allowed to meet them. Their safety is of the gravest concern. Their arrest without proper reason is a violation of their rights and we urge you to release them as soon as possible.

You are surely aware that the student activist Afreen Fatima has filed a complaint to the National Commission For Women and has pointed out that her father was first picked up by police on Friday evening. A few hours later, police came to the house and told her elderly mother, Parveen, who is also diabetic and younger sister, Sumaiya, to come along with them and to bring their phones with them. “This was in clear contradiction of Section 46(4) of CrPC as the arrest or detention was made after sunset and no papers were provided showing approval of such an arrest or detention, with reasons, by a Judicial Magistrate as per the mandate of the law,” she said, in her complaint.

We urge you to look into this complaint and respond urgently to it.

We also wish to bring to your notice that, on June 11, in a press briefing around 12 noon, the SSP of Prayagraj (Allahabad) Ajay Kumar, said that Afreen’s father Javed Mohammed, was taken into custody and was being interrogated for his role in the violence. He stated that Javed Mohammed and his daughter, who was a student of JNU, were involved in “propagating propaganda”! Ironically, this officer admitted that police is still collecting “evidence” of their involvement in the violence but did not hesitate to tell the media that both the daughter and the father were involved in it.

Sir, we strongly deplore the attempt of senior police officers to demonise Afreen Fatima and her family members, without any proper evidence that either she, or members of her family, were even remotely involved in the violence. As we send you this letter we are told that the bulldozers are again there at their door at this time in the night with the police continuing to harass, target and criminalise them.

We are outraged that police have engaged in a random expedition to blame citizen activists for the violence in different parts of Uttar Pradesh and to cover up their own abject failure to respond to and contain the violence that broke out over protests on the utterances of suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma. They have flouted all legal procedures and picked up women from their homes in the middle of the night.

We demand that

  • Parveen Fatima, Sumaiya Fatima and Javed Mohammed, be released forthwith.
  • The attempts to intimidate them and threaten them with demolition of their residence be stopped forthwith.
  • The persistent vilification of Afreen Fatima through the newsmedia and irresponsible statements by your officres be stopped immediately.

We urge you to ensure that democratic and constitutional principles are upheld and that the law is strictly followed in letter and spirit.

Chayanika Shah, Forum Against Oppression of Women, Mumbai

Annie Raja, NFIW

Kavita Krishnan, AIPWA

Hasina Khan, Bebaak Collective, Mumbai

Anuradha Banerjee, Saheli Women’s Resource Centre, Delhi

Teesta Setalvad, Secretary, Citizens for Justice and peace, Mumbai

Brinelle D’souza, Jan Swasthya Abhiyan – Mumbai and Justice Coalition of Religious

Apeksha Priyadarshini, Bhagat Singh Ambedkar Students Organisation, JNU, Delhi

Meera Sanghamitra, NAPM

Seema Azad, PUCL, UP

Kavita Srivastava, PUCL

Yasmeen Aga, Aawaaz-e-niswaan, Mumbai

Sulabha Howal, Vidrohi Mahila manch, Sangli

Shahin Makandar, Nazariya, Sangli

Koel Chatterjee, Feminists in Resistance, Kolkata

Nisha Abdullah, Bahutva Karnataka

Shaheen Shasa, Bahutva Karnataka

Safoora Zargar, Delhi

Nisha Bishwas, Kolkata

Noor Mahavish, Kolkata

Nivedita Menon, Delhi

Maheen Mirza, Film maker, Bhopal

A R Vasavi, Social Anthropologist, Karnataka

Smriti Nevatia, Mumbai

Navsharan Singh, Delhi

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