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‘Missing Loved Ones in Ramadan, Fight for Justice Continues’: Kin of Political Prisoners

India Tomorrow

New Delhi–Family members of several political prisoners, who were arrested on charges related to last year’s Delhi pogrom, expressed determination to continue their fight for justice.

They spoke at an online conversation titled “Sab Yaad Rakkha Jaega”, which was organised by the Students Islamic Organisation of India (SIO), on Saturday. The family members were shared their stories of struggle and agony, as they are forced to spend the holy month of Ramadan without their loved ones.

“I am glad that my son is amongst those who came forward and continued their fight against the false regime”, said Syed Qasim Rasool Ilyas, father of Umar Khalid, initially arrested on September 13, 2020, in a northeast Delhi riots case being probed by the Special Cell, where charges under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) have been invoked. “We all miss him in Ramadan but we are also happy that he is there for the right cause”, added the father.

Jahan Ara, the mother of Asif Iqbal Tanha, said she is proud of his son and all others who are in this fight for the right. “He always talks with a wide smile and keeps encouraging me”, she added. “My son did what was necessary for the nation,” said his father. Tanha, a third-year student of BA in the Persian language, at Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI), was arrested under the stringent anti-terror law – Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, in a case related to the communal violence in northeast Delhi in February.

Muzammil Imam, brother of Sharjeel Imam, one of the prominent political prisoners, told that Sharjeel used to tell him about different people who are in jail and have no support leads and asks him to convey their messages to their families. He ended his talk with an appeal that everyone should talk about unheard voices and stand up for them, their live matters the same as of those sung political prisoners.

Khalid Saifi’s wife shared her experiences and his struggle from the very beginning. Saifi, one of United Against Hate’s (UAH) founders and an assertive Muslim voice driving several activities against communal hate, was arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) last year. “The torture on Khalid was not done because of his crime but personal grudges of the police personnel”, she claimed. She said that she will continue her fight until the false accusations are removed from him and that her children are also proud of their father.

Raihana, wife of Siddique Kappan, a journalist who was arrested on 5 October 2020 and accused of sedition, while he was on his way to Hathras to report on the alleged gang rape and death of a Dalit woman, also spoke at the event. She said that her husband is a very dedicated journalist and did nothing wrong. She shared that his husband is being subjected to awful questions repeatedly, like what is his relation with Rahul Gandhi and Dr. Zakir Naik, and even go beaten up for accepting that he eats beef sometimes. She also shared that Kappan has been tested positive for COVID this week, and his health is continuously deteriorating.

Noor Jahan, mother of Athar Khan, a youngster behind bars, said that his son was not a part of any organization but he was active in protests as he felt this was the right thing to do. “This is the first Ramadan without him. I am sad but not ashamed. I am proud of my son but sad that he has been subjected to live a life which he does not deserves”, her mother said.

Fawaz Shaheen, National Secretary, SIO, said the government is consistently trying to pin down the voices of dissent we will keep asking the questions from the government and stand with those who are behind bars for the same. “Many political prisoners are away from their homes during Ramadan. We are trying to share the grief of their families in this blessed month with hope and prayers that they will be with us very soon”, he said.

Salman Ahmad, National President SIO of India, expressed his sadness for having to organize events for the unjustly arrested prisoners. Ahmad also highlighted the current oxygen cylinder shortage in the country and drew parallelism with justice, the former is essential for the living body while the latter is vital for society. “We have to stand up altogether for what is right, keeping apart our ideological differences and it is much in the times when the government is busy in political rallies and propagandas”, he said.

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