Sixty-six 'concerned members' of the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore have signed a solidarity statement for the alleged intimidation of jailed activist Safoora Zargar and others protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR). The statement only mentions the first names of the signatories for their protection. One of the endorsers was allegedly threatened by a current student of the institute. “The matter is under investigation by competent authorities at IIM Bangalore,” the statement says.
The solidarity statement accuses the central government of using the Covid-19 pandemic as a cover to crush all forms of dissent "that are central to a healthy democracy". All signatories have signed in their personal capacities, it says. The signatures appear in alphabetical order.
“The recent arrests of scores of student activists who had mobilised against the patently discriminatory CAA-NPR-NRC, including a pregnant woman, Safoora Zargar, is meant to further intimidate not only India’s 200 million Muslim citizens but all those who question government’s actions,” says the statement.
Delhi Police has booked Jamia Millia Islamia student Zargar under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) in a case related to the communal violence in northeast Delhi over the CAA in February.
“While the government has gone about arresting student activists under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), the real perpetrators that incited violence in Delhi, including a union minister, have not been charged,” the solidarity statement alleges. “Even as the pandemic rages in crowded prisons, the government has refused to heed to multiple appeals to release these students as well as senior citizens including Prof Anand Teltumbde, Sudha Bharadwaj and others.”
The signatories have demanded that the government immediately release all political prisoners. "To incarcerate spirited defenders of the Constitution under draconian laws is an act of wilful intimidation. We also call upon fellow academics everywhere in India to stand up in solidarity and hold the government to account. Along with the economy, India’s democracy needs to be unlocked, too," says the statement.
Regarding the threat issued to one of the signatories, IIM-B Director Professor G Raghuram said, “We are aware that a matter has been raised by a faculty member who has expressed his serious concerns. We are looking into the same.”