Student groups from various science and technology institutes in the country on Monday sent a petition to the Government of India, National Human Rights Commission and Chief Justice of India, demanding release of all political prisoners arrested in the Bhima Koregaon case and anti-CAA protests.
The online petition, floated by Coordination of Science and Technology Institutes’ Student Associations (COSTISA) — comprising Ambedkar Periyar Phule Study Circle (IIT Bombay), Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle (IIT Madras), Concern (The Indian Institute of Science), Confluence (IISER Mohali), Science Education Group (IIT Kharagpur) and Students For Change (IIT BHU) — received 406 signatures from students and faculty members.
The petition also demanded the government to provide immediate and proper medical treatment and bail on medical grounds to Varavara Rao and Prof G N Saibaba and repeal the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
“While the entire world fights the pandemic caused by Covid-19, many intellectuals and activists are still languishing in jails and many more are being arrested till the present day. On one hand, norms of social distancing are being propagated by the government and on the other hand, we find prisoners being cramped in twice or thrice of the capacity of the jails under inhuman conditions,” said the petition.
“While the Bhima Koregaon arrestees are languishing in jail in extreme conditions as an undertrial under the UAPA and most of them for more than two years, it is important to note that Article 14(3)(c) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which India is a state party, says that an accused person has the right to be tried without undue delay and that criminal proceedings should be started and completed within a reasonable time. Also, most of them are above the age of 60 and have fairly high chances of contracting the virus,” the petition added.
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