Making hasty arrests of students and activists across the capital despite the lockdown, Delhi Police Crime Branch has now seized the mobile phone of Kawalpreet Kaur, Delhi State President of All India Student Association (AISA), on April 27. The investigation was in lieu of the communal violence in February 2020 in North-East Delhi where reportedly 53 died and property worth crores destroyed though the college student asserted that she was not named in the same. Also Read - Unemployed During Lockdown, Pune Man Kills Wife, Son and Self
A student of Delhi University, Kaur was active in organising protests and rallies in the university along with the famous reading of the preamble at India Gate. In an interview with The Quint, Kawalpreet Kaur said, “The fact that the police is trying to link these protests to the riots, is completely fake. This is a way to suppress the voices of students who were actively leading the movement and asking the government questions. This is a way to harass and scare them so that when we get to the time after the lockdown, the democratic movement that was started by students completely ends.” Also Read - Chandigarh Extends Corona Curfew by Another Week | What is Open, What is Shut
As per Kaur, on Monday on 27 April, Delhi police special branch policemen came to her official address where her aunt lives and seized her in lieu of an investigation into the Delhi riots case “where I have not been named.” They asked her to remove her password and handed over the phone to them. Kaur told Indian Express, “After confiscating my phone, they handed over a handwritten seizure report. They didn’t refer to any particular chat or conversation on the phone. No questions were asked. The only thing they wanted was my phone. They didn’t specify any particular chat or any specific case or instance related to anti-CAA protest or Northeast Delhi violence.” Also Read - Haryana Govt Announces Financial Aid of Rs 5000 to BPL Families
She added that neither did the police “indicate anything” on when the phone would be returned nor ask her anything about the recently arrested Jamia student activists, Safoora Zargar and Meeran Haider. Kaur told the news agencies that when she saw the seizure report, she saw draconian and terror acts in the case including the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), Arms Act and charges of murder and rioting. Cooperating with the authoritoes thinking that she had done nothing wrong done to hide, Kaur handed the police her phone. She said, “I am however scared that they may implant something in my phone.”
Taking to her Facebook handle on April 29, Kaur wrote, “I am writing this to inform you all that on Monday, 27th of April, the Delhi Police Special Branch came to my home to investigate the violence that happened in Delhi in February. To my utter shock, the police seized my phone citing inquiry into the violence. It was really hard to believe that this could happen to me.
As a student activist and a responsible citizen of this country, I have always spoken against all injustices in my full capacity wherever I have been. As a student of Delhi University, I remained active in mobilizing students against the attacks on public funded institutions, movements on social justice and gender equality. Further, as a student of law, I spoke against the attacks on the fundamental values of our constitution through the discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) brought by the government. 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. And last but not the least, practicing what my faith and my parents taught me, which says ‘sarbat da bhala’,i.e. Welfare to all. Delhi Police action of seizing my phone is outrageous and is an attempt to instill fear among us all. Worse that all this is happening in a time when the entire world is in lockdown faced with a pandemic and it’s difficult to hold mass protests and access legal help. Dear fellow citizens of India, let us stand united against the intimidating tactics of Delhi Police amidst lockdown. Our struggle to uphold our constitution and democratic rights must go on despite the government’s attempt to intimidate and silence voices of democracy, secularism and justice”
Kaur told Quint that at a time when the Supreme Court itself is asking to empty the jails so as to reduce the COVID-19 pandemic stress, the police is physically going to students and activists homes and arresting them. She said, “Access to legal help is hard as it is impossible to go anywhere physically. When the lockdown is happening, when there is a state of emergency, the police is going to people’s homes and investigating. So of course there is some amount of doubt in our minds. I think maybe, that is why they are using this time. So we do not get lawyers and legal help easily.”