More than 200 national and international scholars, academicians and artistes Thursday released a statement in support of former JNU student Umar Khalid, who is under arrest in a UAPA case for his alleged role in Delhi riots. They called the investigation a “pre-meditated witch-hunt”.
They have demanded that the government “free” Khalid and “all those falsely implicated and unjustly incarcerated for protesting against the CAA-NRC”, and “ensure that the Delhi Police investigates the Delhi riots with impartiality under the oath they took as public servants bound by the Constitution of India”.
Police refused to comment on the statement.
Some prominent persons among the 208 signatories are linguist Noam Chomsky, authors Salman Rushdie, Amitav Ghosh, Arundhati Roy, Ramachandra Guha, Rajmohan Gandhi, filmmakers Mira Nair, Anand Patwardhan, historians Romila Thapar, Irfan Habib, and activists Medha Patkar and Aruna Roy.
“We stand in solidarity and outrage, with the brave young scholar and activist Umar Khalid… He is charged with sedition, conspiracy to murder, and under sections of India’s stringent anti-terror law, the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). This process of criminalising all dissent has been underway for a few years and even under a Covid-19 pandemic, relentless political arrests under fabricated charges are punishing the innocent long before they are brought to trial,” they wrote.
The signatories said the anti-CAA movement was “the largest, most peaceful democratic rights movement in independent India” that “followed proudly in the footsteps of Mahatma Gandhi and embodied the spirit of the Indian Constitution drafted under the leadership of Dr BR Ambedkar”.
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