In a joint letter to President Ramnath Kovind, eight political parties have condemned the recent arrests of activists and students in connection with the anti- Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) movement at a time when the country is battling the COVID-19 pandemic.
The letter has been signed by Sitaram Yechury, CPI (M) general secretary, D. Raja, CPI general secretary, Dipankar Bhattacharya, CPI(ML) general secretary, Debabrata Biswas, AIFB general secretary, Manoj Bhattacharya, RSP general secretary, Sharad Yadav, LJD general secretary, Manoj Jha, RJD MP, and Thol. Thirumavalavan, MP and VCK president.
It is a time when the world is experiencing fear and uncertainty and the government’s priority must be to single mindedly focus in effectively dealing with this pandemic and the problems that have spawned from it, like the lakhs of starving migrant workers trudging back home, the letter says.
The arrests of women activists in Delhi under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act were on “manufactured charges”. On April 10, M.Phil student Safoora Zargar was arrested for her association with anti-CAA protests. In addition, scores of students are being called for interrogation by the Special Branch and intimidated, the letter says.
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Similary, the letter points out that the victims in the violence perpetrated in Jawaharlal Nehru University are being targeted while there has not been a single arrest of those outsiders who unleashed this violence against students and teachers. “It is also shocking to note that certain communities are being targeted while the perpetrators of communally charged violence, established in various video recordings, including prominent leaders of the ruling party, are moving around scot-free.” In case of the riots in northeast Delhi, the eight leaders accused the police of making one-sided arrests of young Muslim men and interrogating only members of the minority community, creating a sense of insecurity among them.
With a highly infectious disease such as the COVID-19, the government should have followed the example of other countries in releasing prisoners, but yet even the physically disabled and people with known serious medical conditions like Dr. G N. Saibaba and others are not being allowed to seek competent medical treatment. In Kashmir, the continuing detention of former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and many others are condemnable, the letter says. The vindictive approach of the government in continuing the detention of RJD chief Lalu Prasad in spite of his ill health and the stringent conditions of his imprisonment is condemnable, the letter adds.
“The arrests of Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha in the Bhima Koregaon case even while continuing the detention of activists Sudha Bharadwaj and others without any evidence is another shocking example of how civil liberties are being trampled,” the letter says.