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22

We, the undersigned, are shocked by the serial raids across the country on the homes of activists and public intellectuals who are critical of the government and the ruling party at the Centre. The arrests of prominent activists and intellectuals Sudha Bharadwaj, Vernon Gonsalves, Gautam Navlakha, Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Kranthi Tekula and others, are nothing but an attempt by the government to strike terror among those who are fighting for justice for the marginalised. This is also an attempt by the BJP to invent a false enemy and engage in scaremongering in order to polarise the 2019 elections in its favour. Already, the government and the media houses close to the BJP have been trying to spin a false narrative of a Maoist conspiracy since June, 2018. Terms like “urban naxals” are invented in order to stifle any criticism of the government. We have learnt that the Delhi Police, after having arrested Sudha Bharadwaj, waited for Republic TV to arrive before taking her to the court. This simply shows that the arrests are incomplete without the accompanying sensationalist media propaganda to demonise activists, human rights defenders and intellectuals.

The so-called raids carried out on the houses of these activists are aimed at creating a spectacle, as the writings and views of these intellectuals are already publicly known and are well documented. This seems like a conspiracy to divert attention from the gravity of the Sanatan Sanstha conspiracy to carry out serial bomb attacks on Eid and Ganesh Chaturthi! The same Sanatan Sanstha was also involved in the murder of Gauri Lankesh, as per the ongoing investigations by Karnataka police. Today’s arrests have been carried out in order to give cover to the murderers of Gauri Lankesh. People like Sudha Bharadwaj, Gautam Navlakha and others who have been arrested are friends of the people who have dedicated their entire lives to the betterment of the Indian public. By arresting them, the BJP is only exposing its insecurities and its intolerance to any dissent or criticism of its policies.

The arrests should be seen in continuation with the recent attacks on pro-justice voices such as Swami Agnivesh, Umar Khalid and many other student activists from Delhi to Lucknow. A BJP lawmaker from Karnataka even advocated the murder of “intellectuals.” Both the arrests and the physical attacks on justice loving people must be seen in a series of attempts to stifle dissent and deny social justice.

We demand immediate release of the arrested individuals, dropping of all false and malicious charges, as these arrests are politically motivated and unjustified.

Shehla Rashid Shora, former Vice-President, JNU Students’ Union.

Mohit Pandey, former President, JNU Students’ Union.

Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, Author, Journalist, Publisher.

Neha Dixit, Journalist.

Jignesh Mevani, MLA Vadgam, Gujarat.

Sanam Sutirath Wazir, Human Rights Activist.

Nakul Singh Sawhney, Documentary Filmmaker.

Teesta Setalvad, Journalist and Social Activist.

Harish Iyer, Equal Rights Activist.

Swami Agnivesh, Arya Samaj, Social Activist.

Admiral L Ramdas

Lalita Ramdas

Shabnam Hashmi

Vidyut, blogger.

Ashok Bharati, Dalit Leader

Maj Priyadarshi Chowdhury, SC, ESM Activist & Coordinator Joint Agitation of Farmers, Dalits & ESMs

Shri VM Singh, Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sanghatan

Kumar Prashant, Chairman, Gandhi Peace Foundation to the statement

If you agree with the above statement, please add your name in the comments and I will periodically add names to the post.

1

I received the following message from activist Shabnam Hashmi along with a phone call recording:

‘जिसका आधार नंबर और एड्रेस नहीं है हम उसे कहीं भी ख़तम कर सकते हैं’

‘एक अभियान चल रहा है घेरो और मारो’

Sub Inspector threatens to kill

Pehchan (I am one of the founding trustees) runs a small centre in Jaitpur extension and teaches school drop outs every year, coaches them to appear for 10th and 12th from Jamia. It also runs sewing classes for women.

I received a call from Director of Pehchan coaching centre at 8.59pm. She told me that Haseen husband of one of the women (Mubina) , who had learnt stitching at our centre, got a call from a man who said that he was calling from the Lajpat Nagar police station and was a sub inspector. He threatened Haseen and called him to the police station regarding some complaint. She gave me SI’s name and number.

Usually when someone is called at night we do try and call up the police officer concerned, try and arrange a lawyer to go with whoever has been called to the police station.

I did the same. Unfortunately my telephone did not have a call recorder downloaded. The conversation which was full of abuses, using highly derogatory and uncivilized language could not be recorded. I cut the phone after 15 minutes or so and downloaded a call recorder quickly. In between the person who claimed to be the Sub Inspector Sandip Malik from Lajpat Nagar Police Station called 4 times but I didn’t pick up the phone till the recorder was downloaded.

I am attaching the recording which is self explanatory. The earlier conversation was a lot more threatening and abusive as compared to what has been recorded.  I was directly threatened that I will be killed in an encounter and that there is the new law according to which whoever doesn’t have an aadhaar and address proof should be surrounded and killed (‘एक अभियान चल रहा है घेरो और मारो’ ).

The man who claimed to be the sub inspector called from mobile no 7065824289.

The conversation and the Sub Inspectors’ threat raise serious questions which the Government of the day and the Police Commissioner must answer.

According to truecaller, the number belongs to one Ashish Kumar and has also been indicated as a police number.

The person speaking is clearly drunk. He is expressing homicidal intent toward those who don't have an Aadhaar. He is clearly speaking using the phone of another police officer - drinking buddy? Where is this impunity coming from? Why would police think it is ok to kill people for lack of identification?

This indicates a serious and urgent security issue for the country. Are the police being encouraged to do physical harm to those who do not have Aadhaar? What is the basis of calling people randomly to the police station or threatening to kill someone for not having an Aadhaar?

Why is the "voluntary" adoption of Aadhaar accompanied with increasing coersion, deprivation of rights and now outright threats of murder? Is this a country or a concentration camp?