By Special Correspondent
New Delhi: Around 1,350 prominent Indians and civil society groups on Thursday condemned Delhi Police for interrogating and seizing the mobile phone of well-known writer and rights defenders Prof. Apoorvanand in connection with the anti- Muslim Delhi riots. They warned that if people do not rise against the attempts to muzzle the democracy today, then there might be no democracy left tomorrow. They also warned that the country is being turned into “a police state where all dissent is criminalized under the most draconian laws.”
It is to mention that On August 3, 2020 the Special Branch of the Delhi Police called in Prof. Apoorvanand, well-known writer, public speaker and Professor of Hindi at Delhi University, where he spent 5 hours, for an interrogation in connection with the Northeast Delhi riots. The police have seized his phone. This comes close on the heels of the interrogation of many other activists.
They said it is matter of grave concern that authorities feel free to haul in nation’s leading public voices to police stations , merely because they speak against the policies and ideology of the ruling government.
“ Also, a day when we must overcome all fear, to stand up for each individual’s right to disagree, dissent, and thereby deepen our democracy. For this democracy today faces its most serious crisis since independence, far more critical than Indira Gandhi’s Emergency 45 years ago.”
In a statement issued to the media, they underlined that “It is not unusual, or even improper, for the police to ask citizens to cooperate in the crime they are investigating. What matters is the context and manner in which this is happening.”
The statement pointed out that ‘Like dozens of others in the past two months, Prof. Apoorvanand has been summoned under section 43F of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, or UAPA.’
The statement further said:
“ This is not all – the summons mentions 19 sections of the IPC; two sections each of the Prevention of Damage of Public Property (PDPP) Act; two sections of the Arms Act; and, finally, four different sections of the UAPA. This is not a normal enquiry or police business as usual. It is part of a clear strategy by the Delhi Police to present protests against the CAA as a conspiracy to plan and stage the communal riots that shook Delhi in late February. This, in turn, is part of the larger design to shut down all dissent in the country so that no one dares question authority.
Over the past several months, students, activists, writers, artists, journalists and other public persons who participated in the anti-CAA protests have been targeted for repeated inquiries, and many have been arrested. Under the omnibus FIR 59 of 2020 alone, more than 17 arrests have taken place already under the UAPA, and over two hundred have been arrested under sections of the IPC. The intense activity of the Delhi Police in pursuing this line of inquiry is in marked contrast to their inaction in investigating leaders associated with the BJP who were seen inciting violence on public television. This pattern is identical to that in the Bhima-Koregaon case, launching a nationwide hunt against alleged “Urban Naxals”, while those who were so clearly responsible for instigating riots after the Elgar Parishad meeting in January 2017 are being allowed to go scot-free.
This crusade to silence all of us has been gathering momentum over the past two years. And today, public figures like Prof. Apoorvanand, and many others, known for their unwavering stand against violence and the politics of hate, are being targeted for their dissenting views. This is all being done under the absurd pretext that these were the “masterminds” who instigated the Delhi riots. By attempting to silence people like this, the government intends a chilling effect on all democratic dissent and discourse; if this is permitted, the chilling effect will be nationwide and it could be irreversible.”
They appeal to all citizens committed to the values enshrined in the Indian Constitution that they should resist “this attempt to turn India into a police state where all dissent is criminalized under the most draconian laws.”
“ We demand that this systematic harassment of voices critical of the government and the blatant misuse of the law and the state apparatus be stopped immediately. If we fail to protest the muzzling of our democracy today, there may be no democracy left tomorrow.”