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Criminalising and Silencing Dissent: Delhi Police Investigations into the February Violence - Text of Press Release by Concerned Citizens | Sept 16, 2020

Friday 18 September 2020


PRESS STATEMENT released on 16th September 2020 Press Club of India, New Delhi,

We have gathered here today to express our collective anguish at the sheer brazenness with which the Delhi police has turned the investigation into the February violence in Delhi into an inquisition of the anti-CAA protests. Just two days ago, Umar Khalid was taken into custody and booked under UAPA and several other criminal sections, thereby adding to the list of anti-CAA protestors languishing behind bars. He is among the soaring young voices who have risen up in defense of the Constitution, at the service of truth, and are today prisoners of conscience.

The Delhi violence saw the loss of 53 human lives, assault on property and livelihoods, and attacks on places of worship. Even in February we were aghast at the role of the police, who were not just partisan but inhuman as they stopped ambulances from entering affected areas; until concerned citizens were forced to knock on the doors of the High court at midnight to remind the police of their duty.

In the last few months we have collectively witnessed the same dereliction of duty by the police. We all wanted a fair investigation into the Delhi violence, but what the Delhi police has resorted to is a sinister plan to brand, target, frame and arrest all those voices that dared to speak up against the unconstitutional and immoral Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). Coupled with the National Register for Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR), the CAA was designed to forever fracture the idea of India.

This was thwarted by what was undoubtedly the most vibrant and creative people’s movement across the country since independence. The movement was the exact antithesis of what the government in power wants us to be. It was united, and at the same time diverse; it was both peaceful and courageous. So, the ruling party has resorted to what it does best. It has deployed the police, a pliant media and all the draconian laws at its disposal to unleash a vicious witch-hunt, particularly against young minds. They do not want them to dream of an inclusive, pluralist, egalitarian India.

The real culprits – who in broad day light threatened to clear the protest sites by force, or those who came with guns into the protest sites, or those who chanted provocative and violent slogans – remain free. Even as all democratic voices of dissent are being gradually implicated. This includes students, academicians, artists, politicians and activists.

We demand an immediate end to this outrageous investigation that is being conducted with prejudice and malafide intent. We demand that activists booked under the UAPA be immediately released; and a judicial enquiry commission be constituted to punish the real culprits and ensure justice for the Delhi violence.

  • Syeda Hameed, Writer and former member, Planning Commission of India
  • Prashant Bhushan, Eminent Lawyer
  • Kanhaiya Kumar, former President, JNUSU, and CPI leader
  • Kavita Krishnan, Politbureau member, CPIML
  • Pamela Philipose, Senior Journalist
  • Nandita Narain, former President, DUTA
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