Masihuzzama Ansari | India Tomorrow
NEW DELHI—Delhi Police on Tuesday evening detained more than a dozen persons, including former JNU research scholar Umar Khalid’s mother Sabiha Ilyas and his sister Zara, when they were trying to take out a candle march outside the Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) campus on the first anniversary of the police action against Jamia students when they were marching towards the Parliament to demand repeal of the “anti-Constitutional” Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) that has made religion as basis for granting citizenship. Umar Khalid, who had campaigned against CAA, is currently in jail on allegations of hatching a conspiracy that led to Delhi riots in February this year.
Armed police were subsequently deployed outside the Jamia to prevent any untoward incident.
Besides Umar Khalid’s mother and sister, there were five other ladies and seven or eight Jamia students among those detained.
However, it was not clear on what charges the police detained them because they were simply taking out candle march.
Umar Khalid’s father Dr Qasim Rasool Ilyas, when contacted, said that the police had detained them. “I have been told that they are being take to Lajpat Nagar Police Station and I am going there”, he told India Tomorrow.
However, an official of Lajpat Nagar Police Station, when approached, said that he did not have any information with regard to detention of Umar Khalid’s mother and his sister.
Students activists from Jawaharlal Nehru University and Delhi University had supported the student protesters of Jamia. After police action at Jamia, several students were detained by the police. JNU and Delhi university students had staged a sit-in outside the office of the Delhi Police Commissioner at ITO the same night and the sit-in was lifted only after the detained Jamia students were released from detention.
Jamia vice-chancellor Prof Najma Akhtar had also filed a case against police for vandalism in the university’s library, seeking action against the police involved in unauthorized entry into the campus and destruction of university properties. When the police did not register FIR, the jamia filed a court case seeking registration of FIR against the cops. While the case is still pending in the court, Delhi Police Crime Branch transferred the complaint to Delhi Police Cyber Cell to conduct probe into the allegations. The investigations are yet to be completed. Jamia had also submitted a bill of Rs. 2.66 crore to the Ministry of Human Resource Development, seeking compensation for damage to the university property in police action.
The Jamia incident resulted into protest by Shaheen Bagh women that attracted international headlines. The Shaheen Bagh protest against CAA that began on December 16, 2019 continued till the imposition of lockdown on March 22, 2020 in view of coronavirus pandemic. Eight five year old Bilkis, fondly called Dadi(Grand Mother), who had become the face of Shaheen Bagh protest against the CAA, found her mention in Time magazine’s 100 most influential persons.
Jamia students and local women used to take out peaceful candle march from Jamia to Shaheen Bagh every evening from December 16, 2019 till the protest was lifted on March 22 this year.
Shaheen Bagh style protest was replicated at more than 500 places all over the country, mostly by Muslim women, supported by liberal and leftist groups. Some miscreants indulged in firing at Jamia and Shaheen Bagh protest sites to create awe and fear among the protesters but the Jamia students and Shaheen Bagh women continued their protests peacefully.
Unfortunately, the protest was linked with Northeast Delhi riots that broke after the incendiary speech of BJP leader Kapil Mishra near Jafrabad anti-CAA protest sites. Mishra, in his speech, had asked the police present over there to remove the anti-CAA activists from the road and threatened that he and his supporters would take the law in their own hands if the police did not remove the protesters. It was followed by attacks on anti-CAA activists and on Muslim localities in Northeast Delhi that resulted in killing of 53 persons, 40 of them Muslims and 13 Hindus, besides more than 400 sustaining injuries and properties worth hundreds of crores of rupees destroyed by the miscreants.
While Mishra was not found guilty in police investigation, police findings accused anti-CAA activists responsible for the riots. Umar Khalid was booked as the prime accused of having hatched the conspiracy to engineer communal riots. Besides levelling charges under various Sections of IPC, he was also booked under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) on charges of terrorism.
In a 59-page fact-finding report on Northeast Delhi riots released recently, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPIM) held Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Home Ministry responsible for the riots. Earlier, a report published by the Delhi Minorities Commission, when it was headed by Dr. Zafarul Islam Khan, alleged the connivance of the police with the mobs attacking the Muslims in riot-hit areas.
Many anti-CAA activists believe that the Northeast Delhi riots were orchestrated by certain groups to curb protests against CAA. They believe that criminalization of anti-CAA protests by the Delhi Police in its chargesheet pertaining to the riots are aimed to ensure that the protest against the CAA is never revived.