Prominent members of the Hindi film fraternity, stand-up comics and activists, came together on Sunday to issue a statement against the “witch-hunt” by the Delhi Police of students and activists protesting against CAA/NRC/NPR.
The 29 signatories include Mahesh Bhatt, Aparna Sen, Ratna Pathak Shah, Anurag Kashyap, Vishal Bhardwaj, Vishal Dadlani, Nandita Das, Konkona Sen Sharma, Hansal Mehta, Onir, Sushant Singh, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, Neeraj Ghaywan, Ashwini Chaudhury, Ankur Tewari, Abish Mathew, Andre Borges, Mallika Dua, Saba Singh Azad, Sohail Tatari, Kushan Nandy among others.
The statement stresses on the fact that the country is reeling under a grave crisis as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown. “We are all being asked to stay home and stay safe in order to break the chain of the deadly virus,” it states.
In the light of it, it expresses shock at the Delhi Police arresting two students of Jamia Millia Islamia University and several activists from the North-East Delhi localities who had participated in peaceful anti-CAA protests. Further, it notes that more students and activists are being called for questioning and interrogation by the police on a daily basis.
“In a twisted fairy tale that the Delhi Police is trying to weave, these activists are now being implicated in cases related to the communal violence in Delhi that took place in February. A riot in which the minorities suffered the maximum damage, both in terms of lives and livelihoods, has now become a pretext for the Delhi Police to further witch-hunt activists, most of whom also come from the minority community,” says the statement.
According to the statement, making several people travel to police stations every day and then throwing some of them to jail defeats the very purpose of the lockdown and makes a mockery of social distancing. This at a time when various governments are releasing under-trials from jail to relieve the pressure from the prisons and restrict chances of contamination.
It goes on to state that the lockdown cannot be a lockdown of the rights of citizens, and must not be abused by the authorities. Calling the actions of the Delhi Police utterly inhuman and undemocratic, it underlines that in a democratic country like India, the Constitution gives the people the right to protest and express their views against the government and its policies. “Many people in the country and the world had condemned the draconian Citizenship Amendment Act. Our opposition to the CAA continues, as we see it as a bigoted law that strikes at the secular fabric of our country. We condemn this witch-hunt of students and activists because they exercised their constitutional right to protest against CAA/NRC/NPR,” it states.
It stresses on the fact that the citizens and authorities need to stand by each other to fight the pandemic but that the Delhi Police is betraying the civic rights of the citizens by taking advantage of the lockdown to target activists, moreso when there is hardly even any media coverage of its actions.
“We urge the Delhi Police to stop abusing the lockdown, respect the human rights of our fellow citizens and put an end to this witch-hunt. We demand the release of these students and activists,” it says.