Stop raids against, police harassment of Dr. Zafarul Islam Khan: Front Line Defenders

Allegations are baseless, construed to intimidate, silence, punish human rights defenders who speak out


Front Line Defenders (FLD), an organization working with the aim of protecting human rights defenders, said, has expressed serious concerns about the ongoing harassment and intimidation of Zafarul Islam Khan. According to a statmend issued by the FLD, it believes that allegations of “funding terrorism” are baseless and have been construed to intimidate those working on human rights and advocating against religious extremism in Kashmir. The recent National Investigation Agency (NIA) raids on Zafarul Islam Khan it stated, “appear to be aimed at silencing and punishing” him and other human rights defenders for “speaking out on human rights and minority issues in India.”

Khan, a well known journalist, Islamic scholar, and former chairperson of the Delhi Minorities Commission was raided on October 29, by the NIA. The NIA conducted the raid on his residence, which is also his home-office and the office of the social organisation ‘Charity Alliance’ headed by him. The raid was the a part of a series of raids carried out by the NIA on October 28 and 29, at homes and offices of several human rights defenders, journalists, academics, and aid organisations related to alleged funding of terrorism in Kashmir.

The FLD recalled that Zafarul Islam Khan as the current Chairperson of the Charity Alliance, an organisation that provides education, relief, development and welfare programmes for minorities in India, has always worked extensively on defending minority rights, including those of Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Jains and Parsis. “The 72-year-old human rights defender is a respected scholar and intellectual and has been vocal against all forms of extremism, including in his own community,” stated the FLD. Khan has always been among the first to speak out against right wing extremism and violence against minorities in India. It added that the “report produced by the DMC on the Delhi riots, clearly implicates far right wing elements, and state collusion in the violence that took place in February 2020. His work, especially as former-Chairperson of the DMC, has made him a direct target for the State and extremist groups.”

The statement recalled how, at around 7 AM on October 29, 2020, “NIA officers scaled the exterior wall of Zafarul Islam Khan’s compound and entered his residence in Dehli. No physical search order or warrant was produced, although the defender was shown what officers purported to be a search order on an NIA officer’s mobile phone. The order stated that the office premises of Charity Alliance was to be searched, having been linked to terrorist militants in Kashmir. The officers ordered the defender and his family members to hand over their mobile phones, and searched the bedrooms and residence on the first floor of the building. Around two hours later, the office of Charity Alliance, located on the ground floor was also searched. Items seized from the residence and the office include documents, laptops, hard drives of desktop computers, cash from the residence, and mobile devices.” After the raid ended at around 11 AM, Khan’s  son was asked to “accompany the officers to Shaheen Bagh police station to fill out a seizure memo, where he remained until 7 PM.”

This is not the first time that Khan has been “targeted by Indian authorities for his work,” stated FLD, recalling how on May 6 2020, “Delhi police entered his home and attempted to arrest him in relation to a post he had made to social media, which the police claimed was seditious. The 72-year-old defender was granted anticipatory bail in this case by the Delhi High Court in July 2020, considering his age, risks posed by COVID-19 to prisoners, and because police had completed their inquiries into his case.”

The Front Line Defenders have urged the authorities to: “Immediately cease all further intimidation and harassment of Zafarul Islam Khan, and return the items seized from him, as it believes that the raid was carried out to intimidate him for his legitimate work in defence of human rights.”

That FLD has asked that the authorities “guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in India are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free from all restrictions.”


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