Coming together on Sunday, over 20 celebrities from Hindi film fraternity, stand-up comics and activists criticised the Delhi Police for its “witch-hunt” of anti-CAA protestors amid COVID-19 pandemic. The signatories included Mahesh Bhatt, Aparna Sen, Ratna Pathak Shah, Anurag Kashyap, Vishal Bhardwaj, Vishal Dadlani, Nandita Das, Konkona Sen Sharma, Hansal Mehta, Onir, Sushant Singh, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, Neeraj Ghaywan, Ashwini Chaudhury, Ankur Tewari, Abish Mathew, Andre Borges, Mallika Dua, Saba Singh Azad, Sohail Tatari, Kushan Nandy among others. Also Read - 196 Doctors Lose Battle to COVID: IMA Writes to PM Modi Seeking Adequate Care For Medicos & Their Families
The statement came days within the arrest of two Jamia Millia Islamia students and several activists from North-East Delhi localities who had taken part in the peaceful sit-in protests. As per Business Standard, the Delhi Police had arrested Meeran Haider, a PhD student of Jamia in the first week of April. According to PTI, Meeran was called for interrogation, despite the lockdown on Wednesday, at Lodhi Colony office by the Special Cell and was then arrested. Also Read - Grim Milestone: Maharashtra's COVID Caseload Surpasses 5-lakh Mark With Highest Single-day Spike of 12822 Infections
Recently, another student and the media coordinator of Jamia Coordination Committee, Sarfoora Zargar, was sent to a two-day police custody by a Delhi court after being accused of organising anti-CAA protests last year in Jaffrabad area of Delhi. Also Read - Sanjay Dutt Hospitalised in Mumbai Due to Breathlessness, Has Been Tested Negative For COVID-19
Stressing that the country is reeling under the grave pandemic with fresh number of coronavirus cases mushrooming every day pan India, the statement expressed shocked at the sufferings of the minorities. It stated, “In a twisted fairy tale that the Delhi Police is trying to weave, these activists are now being implicated in cases related to the communal violence in Delhi that took place in February. A riot in which the minorities suffered the maximum damage, both in terms of lives and livelihoods, has now become a pretext for the Delhi Police to further witch-hunt activists, most of whom also come from the minority community.”
Calling the move by Delhi Police “utterly inhuman and undemocratic”, the statement released asserted that “making several people travel to police stations every day and then throwing some of them to jails also defeats the purpose of the lockdown and makes a mockery of social distancing.”
Describing the protests as a constitutional right, the statement added, “Many people in the country and the world had condemned the draconian Citizenship Amendment Act. Our opposition to the CAA continues, as we see it as a bigoted law that strikes at the secular fabric of our country. We condemn this witch-hunt of students and activists because they exercised their constitutional right to protest against CAA/NRC/NPR.”
Urging the Delhi Police to “stop abusing the lockdown, respect the human rights of our fellow citizens and put an end to this witch-hunt”, the statement demanded the release of the students and activists arrested at a time “when there is hardly even any media coverage of its actions”.