New Delhi: The CPI(M) on Monday condemned the arrest of former JNU student Umar Khalid and alleged that the arrests, under the stringent UAPA, of students in the Delhi riots case were an assault on the ”constitutional guarantees of the democratic right to dissent”. Khalid, a former Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student, has been arrested by the Delhi Police’s special cell for his alleged role in the riots that broke out in the north-east neighbourhoods of the national capital in February this year.
”The arrest of Umar Khalid under the provisions of the draconian UAPA (Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act) is condemnable. Top BJP leaders who made hate speeches and incited violence are protected by the Central Government, while young peaceful protesters against the CAA are being targeted and arrested citing the utterly manufactured version of the country’s Home Ministry and the Delhi Police linking anti-CAA protests with communal violence,” a statement from the Left party said. ”The Central Government must stop the practice of the Special Branch summoning anti-CAA activists for questioning and trying to coerce them into implicating those targeted by the Home Ministry and the Police,” it said.
It also alleged that the UAPA is being used to block the normal processes of justice by which the accused would have been out on bail since, as many of the lower courts have mentioned, there is not ”a shred of evidence” against any of them for inciting violence. The statement said Khalid’s arrest comes following the detention, under the UAPA, of Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita, both JNU students; Ishrat Jahan, a former Councillor of the Congress Party; Jamia students Meeran Haider who is also an RJD youth leader, Asif Tanha, Safoora Zagar, Gulfisha Fatima and Shifr-ul-Rehman.
”The arrests constitute an assault on the constitutional guarantees of the democratic right to dissent,” the statement said. The party further said it has opposed the CAA-NRC-NPR from the beginning both in Parliament and outside in multiple protests throughout the country. ”It reiterates its strong opposition. It expresses its solidarity with all those facing the repression of the Central Government. It demands the release of all those arrested under UAPA in the Delhi communal violence case.
”Recent developments point to the urgent necessity of an independent investigation, under a retired judge, into the causes of the violence as against the biased investigation being conducted by the Delhi police under Union Home Ministry’s guidance,” the party alleged. CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury’s name also figures in the supplementary chargesheet of the Delhi Police, which cites a statement from one of the students who alleged that the leader had given speeches to mobilise protestors. In the same supplementary chargesheet, Khalid has been named in another statement where he allegedly gave ”tips” on how to organise protests.