Arrest of hundreds of Muslim activists in India is a witch hunt driven by vendetta politics say Indian Americans
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WASHINGTON, D.C., May 4, 2020
The Alliance for Justice and Accountability (AJA), an umbrella group of progressive South Asian organizations in the United States, today condemned the Indian Government’s actions in bringing false criminal charges against hundreds of Muslim activists, students, and intellectuals in India and arresting many of them.
These individuals are being targeted for challenging the deeply repressive Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) brought by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Government last December that triggered mass protests and convulsions across Indian society. Activists are also being victimized as for exposing the complicity of Mr. Modi’s Government in the massacre of dozens of Muslims in religious violence against Muslims carried out in the Indian capital, New Delhi, this February.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is conducting a campaign of vendetta politics to persecute Muslims who have for months braved police brutalities at their street protests that were demanding a repeal of the CAA, which discriminates against Muslims in the grant of citizenship.
Their expression of dissent is now being labeled as “anti-national”, and the government’s treatment of Muslims betrays an appalling deterioration in human rights and religious freedom in India today. Mr. Modi’s Government is at the forefront of such human rights violations by providing total impunity to their perpetrators and protecting them from arrests and prosecution, while targeting Muslim activists and victims.
Renowned Muslim intellectual, scholar and activist, Dr. Zafarul Islam Khan, who is currently the Chairman of the Delhi Minorities Commission, a statutory body, is only the latest name in the long list of those being persecuted by the Modi Government. On April 30, Delhi Police registered an FIR (First Information Report) against Dr. Khan on charges of sedition (Section 124A of Indian Penal Code) and for promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc. and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony (Section 153A)
Dr. Khan has been charged for exercising his right to free speech in a Facebook post in which he thanked the Government of Kuwait for expressing solidarity with Indian Muslims. His post also mentioned the attacks by Hindu nationalists on Indian Muslims.
In fact, since Mr. Modi announced a nationwide lockdown on March 24, his government has arrested hundreds of Muslim activisits on false criminal charges and with no evidence in a relentless witch-hunt. Such arrestees include Safoora Zargar, a prominent youth activist and research scholar who is four months’ pregnant, and Gulifsha, also a female student activist Shafi ur Rehman, Jamia Millia Islamia Alumni Association president, and Sharjeel Imam, a student activist, have been charged under the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), along with scores of others Meeran Hyder, a student at New Delhi’s Jamia Milia University, has been arrested. Dr. Umar Khalid, one of India’s leading student activist, too has been charged under the UAPA, and faces the threat of imminent arrest.
Under the Modi administration, criticizing Hindu nationalism is being considered sedition and treason. The ongoing crackdown against Indian Muslims is a textbook case of repression of civil dissenters at the behest of the Hindu nationalist Modi government.
In its Annual Report 2020, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has recommended to the Department of State to include India in its list of Countries of Particular Concern (CPC), alongside Iran, Pakistan, Saudia Arabia and North Korea. The targeting of activists in India only affirms the USCIRF’s findings and their decision to place India in the list of CPC. The USCIRF also recommended increased “US partnerships with Indian law enforcement to build capacity to protect religious minorities.”
AJA has urged the U.S. Government to accept the recommendations from the USCIRF while calling upon the Government of India to eschew its divisive agenda and to work towards unifying Indian society. AJA has called for the immediate release of those arrested for merely exercising their constitutional right to free speech, and for dissenting peacefully against the CAA and against Hindu nationalism.
The AJA is dedicated to promoting the common values of pluralism, tolerance, and respect for human rights that form the basis of the world’s two largest secular democracies – the United States and India.
Alliance for Justice and Accountability
Alliance for Justice and Accountability is an umbrella coalition of various organizations dedicated to promoting the common values of pluralism, tolerance, social justice and respect for human rights that form the basis of the world’s two largest secular democracies – the United States and India.