The statement released by Culture Workers’ Support Trust mentioned that the police were arresting students, artists and journalists on the basis of forced confessions and harassing them with “digressive investigations”.
“This is a clear attempt to create a culture of fear and is a direct attack on the right to critical speech and expression,” they stated.
Days ago Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student leader Umar Khalid was arrested by the Delhi Police under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
The Special Cell of Delhi Police termed JNU PhD scholar Sharjeel Imam’s involvement in connection with Northeast Delhi riots “detrimental to the sovereignty and integrity of the country” and booked him under the UAPA too.
While hundreds of peaceful protesters have been charged with anti-terror laws, those from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) who encouraged people to “shoot the traitor” and gave ultimatums in front of the police still continue to roam free.
The investigation by the police has been termed as a witch-hunt against creative communities, activists, students and relief workers.
BJP leader Kapil Mishra on February 23 asked the Delhi Police to vacate the Jaffrabad and Chand Bagh roads in Delhi where protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) had begun. In an ultimatum to the Police, Kapil Mishra said he would give only three days to the cops to clear the roads or, he said, “we would have to take to the streets”.
In the video that had gone viral on social media, the leader can be heard saying, “We will be peaceful till (Donald) Trump leaves. After that, we won’t listen to even you if the roads are not cleared.”
Later on January 24, 2020, ahead of the Delhi assembly elections, Mishra equated the polls to an ‘India versus Pakistan contest’ and tweeted “India vs Pakistan 8th February Delhi. There will a contest on Delhi Roads between India and Pakistan on February 8”.
Alarmingly, Mishra is only one among the BJP leaders who had made communal remarks during the violent riots that claimed over 50 lives and left more than 400 people injured in north-east Delhi.
However, when it comes to the accountability of people in positions of power, their speeches, surprisingly aren’t considered offensive enough to take any action.
On January 27, BJP leader and Minister of State for Finance, Anurag Thakur, encouraged the audience at a rally in Delhi’s Daryaganj to shout an extremely incendiary slogan.
In the video of the incident shared online, the minister can be seen encouraging his supporters to chant “desh ke gaddaron ko…”
Encouraged by the leader’s wise advice, on the very same day, an armed man entered the protest site at Shaheen Bagh and threatened the anti-CAA agitators. However, he was overpowered by the protesters.
In another incident, on January 31, a youth opened fire at protesters outside Jamia Millia Islamia, injuring one student.
Just a day after the incident, BJP MP from West Delhi constituency, Parvesh Verma, said that if the prevailing situation at Shaheen Bagh continued, the protesters would enter their homes and rape women.
Later, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath also joined the list of BJP leaders encouraging the use of bullets against protesters. While addressing a rally in Delhi on February 1, CM Adityanath said that “those who attack Kanwariyas (devotees of Lord Shiva) will have to face bullets.”
The police termed the role of students during the riots as “harmful for religious harmony, unity and integrity of India”, while leaders who encouraged protesters to pick up arms and shoot have not even been questioned or warned for their actions yet. The BJP on its part condemned the hate speeches and inflammatory comments but did not act on them.
It appears easy to curb the dissent of students and protesters than reign in politicians making hate speeches in new India.
Also Read: Former Jawaharlal Nehru University Student Umar Khalid Arrested In Delhi Riots Case