As Part of a Political Script to Witch-hunt Students and Activists Critical of Government and Target AISA
As part of the series of arrests and intimidation of student activists, the Delhi Police went to Comrade Kawalpreet Kaur’s House in Delhi on 27th April and seized her mobile phone in the name of enquiry into the Delhi communal violence. The seizure memo given to her cites an FIR with a slew of charges including the draconian UAPA – a supposed anti-terror law that is basically an excuse to lock up students and activists who are critical of the government – without trial, without bail – and throw away the key.
This piece of intimidation comes in the wake of a long trail of similar acts of intimidation and arrests – especially targeting prominent voices in the movement to save India’s Constitution by opposing the CAA which together with the NPR and NRC work to strip poor and minority Indians of citizenship.
In Assam, anti-CAA activist Akhil Gogoi is still in jail. In Delhi, a whole host of anti-CAA activists including students and alumni of Jamia and JNU are among those booked under draconian laws and on false charges. Likewise student activists in UP also were arrested from anti-CAA protest sites. Meanwhile, 11 academics, intellectuals and activists are now in jail under UAPA in the Bhima Koregaon case. Recently, Kannan Gopinathan who resigned from the IAS and was a prominent and articulate young voice in the anti-CAA protests, has been booked in an FIR in Daman and Diu, charging him for refusing to rejoin IAS services.
It is clear that the excuses and pretexts vary but the plan is the same – to target and arrest dissenting voices, and punish them for daring to speak up in defence of India’s Constitution.
The Delhi Police Special Cell’s targeting of Kawalpreet Kaur, who is the President of Delhi State AISA, comes after a news report in the Indian Express dated April 25, 2020 which reported that the Delhi Police claimed it had evidence based on its investigations of WhatsApp chats of nine persons, on the basis of which it had invoked UAPA against various students and activists, and was “exploring action against several members of the Popular Front of India (PFI), the Jamia Coordination Committee (JCC), Pinjra Tod, All India Students’ Association (AISA) as well as former and current students of Delhi University and JNU.”
Do the Delhi Police claims that its pursuit of student activists including AISA activists is based on its thorough “investigations”, have any credibility? Let us see.
- More than a month back on the 7th and 8th of March 2020, news reports by ANI, Rajasthan Patrika and other media organisations quoted the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh – RSS – accusing AISA along with other organisations of being the key conspirators in the North East Delhi riots. On 12th March AISA sent a letter to Rajasthan Patrika which was later made public, condemning and demolishing these lies.
- On 11th March 2020, a “Group of Intellectuals and Academicians” led by Monika Arora, an advocate who bats for the BJP on many occasions and is a former DUSU President from ABVP, and a former BJP MLA candidate in Delhi Assembly Elections, met the Minister of State for Home Affairs Kishen Reddy and submitted a report. The RSS mouthpiece Organiser carried a detailed story on this “report”. This so-called “report” (a piece of fiction) further insinuated that “The anti-CAA protests have the stamp of PFI-AISA.” This was evidently an attempt to manufacture a false, conspiratorial narrative around AISA.
To sum up: The Delhi Police claims on April 25th 2020 that its targeting of AISA and other student groups is based on painstaking “investigations” and “evidence”. But the fact is that the Delhi Police is simply acting out a script that had been prepared by the RSS-BJP brigade and then amplified by its supporters like Monica Arora, more than a month before the Delhi Police’s supposed “investigations”! This is not the first time Delhi Police (controlled by Home Ministry) has presented right-wing fabrications as its own “evidence”. After the violence by masked ABVP thugs in JNU, the Delhi Police had held a press conference presenting photographs and videos circulated by RSS-BJP-ABVP affiliated social media accounts, as “evidence” gathered by a police “investigation”!
We may recall here that the Bhima Koregaon arrests also followed a similar script which first played out in Republic TV studios, and then was picked up by the Pune Police and now the NIA.
Meanwhile, the Delhi Police, we may recall, has refused to act on the copious evidence proving the role of BJP leaders like Kapil Mishra, in inciting the targeted violence and riots which gripped large parts of NE Delhi. Similarly there is still no action against the shrill venomous calls and speeches by the likes of Anurag Thakurs and Parvesh Vermas in the run up to the Delhi elections, clearly geared to fan communal hate. The Delhi Police has also ignored evidence that ABVP leader Komal Sharma and other ABVP thugs entered JNU campus wearing masks and indulged in violence that threatened the lives of students and teachers. Likewise the NIA has ignored the evidence of the involvement of right wing brigades led by Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote in the violence against Dalits at Bhima Koregaon. In both Delhi riots, as well as Bhima Koregaon and JNU, it is the victims of the violence and their allies and voices of dissent who are being targeted – while the actual perpetrators of violence go scot free.
Worst of all, the pandemic and lockdown are being used by India’s Home Ministry and the Modi regime as cover for an all-out bid to arrest and silence dissenters at a time when mass protests are not a possibility, and when the courts are especially difficult to access for most people.
Comrade Kawalpreet along with AISA activists all over India joined thousands of students from universities across the country in raising their voices against CAA-NRC-NPR. Students publicly read out the Preamble of the Indian constitution. AISA activists participated in peaceful protest gatherings to defend the secular basis of our constitution when those in power are doing all to divide the nation on a religious basis. Following the NE Delhi violence, AISA worked to bring relief to affected persons. And now, the police, under instructions from the RSS and BJP is trying to intimidate these students who stood in defence of the country’s constitution!
Today we stand with the millions of workers of our country who have been left hungry and starving by the governments. Hand in hand with Trade Unions we are raising our voice to end the hunger and ensure rights of the poor and workers. In our efforts today we know that the workers and poor who are left to starve today (for lack of ration or Aadhaar cards) will be ones who will be thrown out of NRC list if the latter is implemented.
The Delhi Police and India’s Home Ministry can spend the pandemic cooking up tales against defenders of India’s Constitution and democracy. We will continue to do what is the duty of citizens – to stand with the poor and vulnerable in their demand for rights and dignity, to boldly question the regime in power and hold it accountable. We stand united, we stand fearless. For each of us that you seek to silence, a hundred of us will speak even louder.