UP: Is Aabid Shekh being penalised for dissent?

The activist faces baseless accusations of planning to disrupt peace in Varanasi; rights organisations backing him have called the incident a stifling of free speech

DissentImage: Unsplash

Human Rights Defender Aabid Shekh has been accused of planning to disrupt the Vice President’s visit to Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh by the local police on April 22, 2022. Rights groups like the Human Rights Defenders Alert (HRDA) say that authorities are misusing the law to harass Shekh and curtail his constitutional rights.

Shekh is a human rights activist who has been a participant in many peaceful citizenship protests in the past including anti-CAA protests and raised his voice on public issues. On April 25, two police officers handed a notice against Shekh issued by the Special Executive Magistrates of Varanasi. It demanded a surety of ₹ 1 lakh or property of the same amount from him. The accused refused to furnish the surety bond because he says he has not done anything illegal. He also rejected claims of him trying to disrupt peace.

The notice referred to an investigation report prepared by Chetganj Sub-Inspector Jagdeesh Ram, and asked Shekh to appear before the court on May 6 and explain why he should not pay the surety bond.

“We believe this notice is a way to stifle dissent and freedom of speech and expression. Shekh has no past criminal record and there is no valid reason for the police and district administration to ask him to provide a surety bond for breach of peace. The main purpose of the notice is to harass and silence the voices of law abiding HRDs, who exercise their constitutionally granted right to peaceful protest. However, despite being an innocent citizen Mr. Shekh is at risk of arrest for no reason of his making,” said the HRDA.

As such, it demanded strict action against the official who insisted that Shekh file the bond and thus pressured him from protesting against the government. Further, it asked the Director general of Police to ensure that Shekh is not harassed or arrested in the future and asked the Sub Divisional Magistrate to cancel the notice against the HRD.

“Put an end to all acts of harassment and intimidation against all HRDs in Uttar Pradesh to ensure that in all circumstances they carry out their activities as defenders of human rights without any hindrances,” said the HRDA.


Chhattisgarh police arrest tribal rights defender, allegedly on fabricated charges

BREAKING: Jignesh Mevani re-arrested after getting bail in Assam

HRDA demands justice for Baldev Murmu’s illegal detention



Related Articles