The All India Students’ Association (AISA) on Monday alleged that the Delhi Police seized the mobile phone of its Delhi Unit’s President Kanwalpreet Kaur in connection with the riots in various parts of Delhi in February. The organisation maintained that the memo handed to her stated that the seizure was linked to an FIR slapping provisions of draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). The action came days after the Delhi Police arrested students of Jamia Millia Islamia and invoked UAPA against a former Jawaharlal Nehru University student, Umar Khalid. The riots broke out on February 23 and resulted in the death of 48 persons.
In a statement, Kaur said that the Delhi Police’s actions are akin to intimidation for expressing her opinion in a democratic country. She said, “I, along with my organization All India Students' Association (AISA) participated in peaceful demonstrations against the CAA-NPR-NRC along with thousands of others. We participated in various events where we read out the Preamble of the Indian Constitution. After the North East Delhi violence, we raised voice for peace, democracy and justice. We were active in the relief work for the victims. It is deeply shocking and disturbing to know that the police is trying to intimidate me for my activism, for speaking in defence of the constitution.”
Kaur’s lawyer, Abhishek Chimni, told NewsClick, “The Delhi Police have seized the phone, but it did not say any specific reason for it. We are looking into the matter and will be able to say something only by the end of the day.”
Talking to NewsClick, N Sai Balaji, National President, AISA, said that the action by Delhi Police is similar to during other incidents like JNU violence and Bhima Koregaon case where “victims are treated as criminals for raising their voice against the injustice”. He said, “The action comes after a leading newspaper in Rajasthan accused the organisation members and other students from Jamia and JNU of inciting violence in Northeast Delhi. Based on these reports, a BJP-supported advocate, Monica Arora, makes a presentation to the Union Home Ministry, also controlled by BJP, regarding our involvement. Now, acting on the same script, Delhi Police is hounding students and activists for their activism.”
He added, “It is quite evident that the riots broke out after Kapil Mishra made a provocative speech in front of the Delhi Police and it did not bother to interrogate Kapil Mishra, let alone arresting him. Similarly, Parvesh Verma and Anurag Thakur too delivered speeches during the election campaign stoking communal feelings... Worst of all, the pandemic and the lockdown are being used by the 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.”
As per the FIR, Umar Khalid and others made “provocative speeches” and urged people to come out on roads during the visit of American President Donald Trump to attract the attention of international media towards the state of affairs regarding minorities in the country. Petrol bombs, firearms, acid bottles and stones were collected from several places, said the FIR, addin that the co-accused Danish, a Popular Front of India member, was given the responsibility of gathering people from two different places to take part in the riot.
Delhi Police have also arrested Jamia students Safoora Zargar, Meeran Haider and Jamia Alumni Association President Shifa-ur-Rahman. The students have also been booked for the offences of sedition, murder, attempt to murder, promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion and rioting. Zargar is pregnant and arrested for allegedly hatching a conspiracy to incite violence.
Also read: Activists Slam ‘Communal’ Probe even as Delhi Police Continues Arrests of Anti-CAA Protestors