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Activists vow to come to streets again to keep alive democracy

India Tomorrow

NEW DELHI—Concerned citizens at a press conference at the Press Club of India on Thursday said that the recent Supreme Court judgement in connection with the Shaheen Bagh anti-CAA protests, stating that the protests be allowed at designated spots only, was a mockery of democracy. They vowed to come to streets again to keep alive democracy.

The apex court judgment had said Shaheen Bagh-type protests are not acceptable and the administration ought to take action to keep such areas clear of any encroachments or obstructions by citizens protesting.

Magsaysay awardee Arundhati Roy said that in 1960s, there was radical movement in the country demanding justice, redistribution of wealth, land, reservation for those who were suppressed. In 1980s to 90s, people spoke against displacement of adivasis, people who live at the bank of rivers and had little bit of land. That was considered revolutionary act, asking state governments not to displace them.

But now the protests are being criminalised. In Delhi, a large number of youths who protested against CAA, NRC and NPR, are in prison, she said. They were demanding withdrawal of CAA which is unconstitutional.

She also spoke about Kashmir, states of North-East and Chhattisgarh where thousands of adivasis and other citizens are in jail charged with sedition and terrorism cases under  Unlawful Activities (prevention) Act(UAPA).

Calling media “spineless pets”, Roy said, “Look at Umar Khalid how many years they have lied about him. How many years they had been calling him names? How many times they will endanger his life? Now he is in jail. It is such a shameless media. The media people are beyond disgusting.”

Speaking on alleged gangrape case of Hathras, she said what happened in Hathras showed that every organ of the country was rotten. There was a Dalit girl who in three videos said “I was gangraped by these men”. She named men who raped her. They were of upper caste. She was taken to hospital where doctors did not examine her for rape. Instead of sympathising with the victim, police and administration blamed her. The police and the administration cremated her body without informing her parents.

She said, “Today, we are in the country whose economy is in bad shape. People are hungry. People have lost jobs. But in pipeline, we have hatred. It is going to collapse. Even election machinery has compromised. NGOs, political opposition, social media are criminalized by the system. It has criminalized individuals”, she said.

 Stating that how police put obstructions in giving permission for organising protests, Swaraj Andolan leader Yogendra Yadav said, “I wish to ask the judges to apply for organizing a protest and then see the police attitude. How they delay the protest for not giving permission. Sometimes the police refused for giving the permission at eleventh hour. If permission is given, it is given verbally. He also gave two examples of recent police barbarism in Haryana and Maharashtra. In Haryana, police have registered a murder case against a protester of Kisan Bill while in Mumbai protesters have been issued notice of security amount of Rs. one lakh to Rs five lakh. One student was issued a notice of security amount of Rs 50 lakh.

Founder of United Against Hate(UAH) Nadeem Khan said that he made an announcement on birthday of freedom fighter Ashfaqullah Khan that the protest against CAA would continue till the law is withdrawn. Speaking against police claim of conspiracy for protest, Nadeem said that it was not a conspiracy. “We have been protesting against the CAB since 2017”, he said.

The police claimed the conspiracy for the protest was chalked out in November or in December 2018.

He said that the police had filed the closure report in JNU student Najeeb Ahmed’s missing case, telling the court that it could not open phone pattern on the mobile phones of the accused.

He said that police have seized the mobiles phones of 300 protesters against CAA and they are being called every day for the questioning.

Nadeem said that UAH had released a report of NRC in Assam in 2018 & 2019. The UAH also fought the case of Bulandshahar SHO who was killed in police firing. It also fought the case of lynching of Junaid in Haryana.

(The story has been written by Syed Ali Ahmed)

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