By Muslim Mirror Special Correspondent,
Lucknow: Amnesty International India and Bhim Army are demanding that the Uttar Pradesh government immediately release Chandrashekhar Azad from administrative detention who has been languishing in prison for the past one year.
Keeping Chandrashekhar Azad behind bars under repressive administrative detention laws, shows that the Uttar Pradesh government would rather stifle dissent than address serious human rights concerns”, said Asmita Basu, Programmes Director at Amnesty International India.
Speaking to the media in Lucknow, Amnesty International India and Bhim Army highlighted that Chandrasekhar Azad has been denied a fair trial for many months now. He was first arrested on 8 June 2017, for his alleged involvement in the 2017 Saharanpur riots. On 2 November 2017, the Allahabad High Court granted him bail. While granting bail, the court reportedly observed that cases against Chandrasekhar Azad were politically motivated. However, a day later, before he could be released from jail, he was arrested again—this time under the draconian National Security Act (NSA). The NSA permits administrative detention for up to 12 months on loosely defined grounds of national security and maintenance of public order. The NSA has often been used to target human rights defenders in India.
“The state government has done everything to keep Chandrashekhar Azad ‘Ravan’ in jail. What crime has he committed?” asked Vinay Ratan Singh, President of Bhim Army. “When the riots were taking place, the same state authorities had asked for his and Bhim Army’s help to maintain peace in Saharanpur. Now they are saying that if he is released, he will create a law and order problem,” said Vinay Ratan Singh.
On 27 April 2018, the Allahabad High Court dismissed Chandrashekhar Azad’s petition to quash his detention order under the NSA. The decision came after the Uttar Pradesh government submitted that, if Chandrashekhar Azad were released, he would indulge in activities, which would ‘spread caste feeling’ and ‘have an adverse impact on maintenance of law and order’. Following the High Court order, the Uttar Pradesh government extended Chandrashekhar Azad’s detention under the NSA for three months, till August 2018.
“The Allahabad High Court’s decision not to quash the NSA order detaining Chandrasekhar Azad ‘Ravan’ raises disturbing questions. It is essential for courts to protect fair trial guarantees of all persons and ensure that the criminal justice system is not undermined,” said Asmita Basu.
Over 140,000 people across India have supported Amnesty International India’s campaign calling on Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to release Chandrashekhar Azad ‘Ravan’. The petition launched on 4 April, requests people to give a missed call to 080-3045-6566 to show their support for Bhim Army leader, Chandrashekhar Azad ‘Ravan’.
Administrative detention laws allow for people to be detained without charge or trial. Under international law, administrative detention is only permitted in exceptional circumstances and when subjected to stringent safeguards. In India, administrative laws such as the NSA have often been used to detain individuals on vague grounds, ignoring regular criminal justice safeguards. The Supreme Court of India has described the system of administrative detention as “lawless.” Amnesty International opposes all systems of administrative detention.