Stop police harassment of intellectuals and activists: American Muslim group

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By Special Correspondent

Washington DC: Expressing solidarity with Delhi Minorities Commission chairman Dr Zafarul Islam Khan, Association of Indian Muslims of America, an influential group of Indian origin Muslims, on Thursday said the police must stop harassment of conscientious intellectuals and activists. The group also condemned the Delhi police’s raid at the residence of Dr Khan on Wednesday evening moments before the Iftaar in connection with an FIR lodged by a Hindtuva activist on his tweet “thanking Kuwait for standing with Indian Muslims”.

In a statement, American Association Executive Director Kaleem Kawaja said under the BJP regime harassment of distinguished intellectuals by the Indian police has been increased manifold.

“In the last one year many instances of harassment of distinguished intellectuals by the Indian police in states ruled by BJP party have occurred. This has happened to quite a few conscientious distinguished intellectuals, because they expressed their honest opinions in the media on the highhandedness of senior political officials and police on the masses. Or they spoke out against the government oppression of freedom of speech.”

Kaleem Kawaja, said the ugly incident of raiding DR Khans’ house and similar actions of police in recent past against other respectable prominent citizens and intellectuals mentioned above, who disagree with the BJP government’s policies, is not only a violation of the basic democratic setup in India, it is unlawful and it reeks of a police state.

How can police raid the houses of peaceful citizens just because they disagree with the policies of the government ?He asked

He noted that Police has filed First Information Report (FIR) complaints, or sedition charges or arrested some of India’s very distinguished intellectuals like Siddharta Vardarajan, Gautam Navlakha, Telmude.

Even courts including High Courts and Supreme Court have declined to give them bail or to hear their petition for bail, he added.

In many such instances police has conducted aggravated raids on the houses of these distinguished citizens and confiscated computers, books etc from them.

“In several instances in recent past after prolonged police investigations they have failed to bring out any evidence of wrongdoing. So it is just a shakedown intended to muzzle the conscientious thought leaders.”

In the last six months Dr Khan has made several statements criticizing police for brutalities on the students of Jamia Milia University students, and those protesting peacefully against the recently promulgated unconstitutional Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). Dr Zafarul Islam is a distinguished scholar of Islamic and Arabic literature and is the past head of the apex advocacy group, Majlis Mashawarat and editor of the very popular Milli Gazette newspaper.

On May 6, 2020, a contingent of two dozen policemen arrived at Dr Khan’s house in New Delhi at sunset without any advance notice. Without having a court search warrant or any specific allegation against him they tried to search his house and confiscate his laptop and cell phone, and told him to come with them to the police station for further interrogation. A crowd of the local community including current MLA (Amanatullah Khan), former MLA Asif Khan and many others assembled outside his house and commotion occurred.

Kawaja said that thought leaders of the minority communities are facing much police harassment as if they are criminals; many upright Hindu leaders who disagree with the BJP government and chose to speak up are also being trashed by the government authorities and police. He appealed to the Indian prime minister and president of India to take cognizance of the situation and take measures to reverse this trend forthwith.

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