Attack on anti-CAA activists continue, Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) students arrested

One gets bail, another sent to jail, these arrests mirror those taking place in Delhi, as the national Covid-19 lockdown continues


Close on the heels of what can only be called the biggest ‘lockup students and activists during national lockdown’ project spearheaded by Delhi Police, now two Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) students, have been arrested, in the same manner. The students identified as Farhan Zuberi and Ravish Ali Khan were arrested on Thursday.

The two have been arrested allegedly for their participation in the democratic protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) that began in the winter of 2019. Ravish, who was arrested around 12 pm, was released by the local police, but Farhan was sent to jail in Aligarh, The Quint reported.

These arrests are the latest additions in what seems like an arrest-roster that is being filled up with students and activists who had been participating in peaceful protests voicing their dissent against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). Most of these arrests have taken place after the national lockdown was announced once the Covid-19 pandemic began to spread across the country.

India is now in the fourth phase of the lockdown and social distancing is a key rule that has been put in place to help slow down the spread of the Coronavirus. This has resulted in the suspension of all mass gatherings across the city. These arrests are taking place at a time when it is impossible to protest, or gather in solidarity with the victims. 

Farhan is a final year student of Masters in Social Work, while Ravish is pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in the same course, stated The Quint. According to the report Farhan has “10-11 charges against him for taking part in anti-CAA protests in December”.

The two were out for some personal work and were intercepted at an area called Madrak by plain clothes policemen. The Quint quotes Ravish as saying they were stopped forcefully:

“We were driving fast, the police stopped our car and threw the barricade towards our car in such a way that the side-view mirror fell and hit on my hand. I have got injuries but none very serious.”

Ravish was released after nearly six hours spent at the police station as he had to no charges against him, but Farhan, who was a known face during the protests and was also a part of the AMU coordination committee, was sent to  jail and charged with of Attempt to Murder, and Sedition. Ravish told the journalist that he was scared the police would charge him too as he had also been active in the anti-CAA protest. According to the news report, he has been charged under the sections of the Indian Penal Code which range from Section 307 — Attempt to murder; Section 124A — Sedition; Section 153A — Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence  to Section 188 — Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant; Section 353 — Assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty;  Section  504 — Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace; as well as Section 506 — criminal intimidation, Section  147 — rioting and Section  336 — Act endangering life or personal safety of others.

Most students and activists arrested in Delhi have also been charged under similar sections, most of them are Muslims, and were active in the anti-CAA protest demonstrations, which started in Delhi and soon became nationwide. Most of those arrested were first called for questioning by the special cell, and later placed under arrest. Many of them continue to be behind bars even as the Covid-19 pandemic rages on in the national capital. 

However, one of them was granted bail by a Delhi court on Thursday. According to a PTI report, Jamia Millia Islamia student Asif Iqbal Tanha, was granted bail in a case related to violence near the university during protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act in December 2019. The PTI stated that Additional Sessions Judge Gaurav Rao granted the relief to Tanha on furnishing a bail bond of Rs 25,000 and a surety of the same amount. The court had noted that eight out of 10 accused in the case were on bail. It also considered that 24-year-old Tanha, was a student and had “clean antecedents”. It granted bail “on the ground of parity and most importantly considering the present situation arising out of Covid, accused is admitted to bail.” 

Though some others were granted bail in one FIR, but then re-arrested in another as was reported by SabrangIndia earlier. The most recent has been the case of two women activists  Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal, leaders of the feminist rights group Pinjra Tod, who are  students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and who were arrested taking part in anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests in the capital, then granted bail but rearrested by the Delhi Crime Branch immediately. This time they have been charged with murder and attempt to murder.

It should also be remembered that the pregnant student activist Safoora Zargar, had been denied bail, and her Judicial custody was extended till June 25. Safoora, a scholar in the sociology department of the prestigious Jamia Millia Islamia university Safoora who was arrested by the special cell of the Delhi police on April 10. Sabrang had in multiple reports highlighted that she is in the second trimester of her first pregnancy, and has been lodged behind prison bars for well over a month, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. Inmates, and staff, at the overcrowded jails are extremely vulnerable to being exposed to Coronavirus. And pregnant women have been classified as being amongst the most vulnerable. 

Other scholars and human rights defenders currently in jail, and many charged under various IPC provisions, as well as the dreaded Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) include:  Gulfisha Fatima, Khalid Saifi, Meeran Haider, Shifa ur Rehman and Sharjeel Imam. Delhi Police has also seized the mobile phone of former DU student, human rights defender and lawyer Kawalpreet Kaur.





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