Emerging news from Delhi shows that BJP government is not ready to step back from its violent agenda all the while when the whole country is perplexed under the attack of Covid 19 pandemic and the lockdown to curb its spread. This column had earlier dwelt at length on the witch hunt by the state after the students who took part in the protest against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
It is a discernible fact that the central home ministry stooped too low in playing politics as Safoora Zargar, student of Jamia Millia, who was pregnant at the time of her arrest, is imprisoned in Tihar jail after being charged UAPA. Meeran Hyder, a student of Jamia Millia, Shifaurrahman, leader of alumni organization of the institute, Gulshifa, leader of Pinchra Tod, a feminist organization in Delhi were also arrested earlier. Of these, the arrest of Safoora Zargar was covered by international media and several human rights organisations issued statements condemning the heinous act. As protests were mounting against the arrest of the Jamia students, Asif Iqbal Tanha, another student of Jamia was also arrested by Delhi police.
The Central government is continuing the crackdown on Muslim students with least regard to protests and condemnations against it. The Central government which is clearly short of sense of direction in battling Covid 19, however, has been found to be precisely goal-driven in the witch hunt. Hence, it is a highly significant political act to speak for each targeted student. So, today we are writing about Asif Iqbal Tanha.
Asif was called by a special cell of Delhi Police on 16th May for interrogation. On 17th May, Crime Branch of Chanakyapuri arrested him. The police submitted in the court that the arrest was in connection with clashes which happened in Jamia on 12th December 2019 (which incidentally was an incident of ruthless clampdown of the police on students). The request for police custody of Asif was not approved by the court on the first day. Instead, he was sent on 14 days judicial custody. Asif had narrated to his friends who visited him while being in judicial custody about the brutal torture he suffered at the hands of police.
It was while Asif Tanha was in judicial custody in a case connected with the incidents of 12 December 2019 that Delhi police charged another case against him and recorded his arrest. The second arrest and custody was in a case (FIR 59) in connection with the eastern Delhi riots. Infact, what came to be called the eastern Delhi riots was actually a planned attack on Muslims that took place between 23 and 27 February in eastern Delhi. There are several instances in which youths who were victim to the attacks approached the police station to file complaints and then cases were charged even against them and they were arrested. However, Asif Tanha is one who was not even present in Delhi during the events.
The modus operandi of arresting and putting in jail Asif Tanha is similar to the one adopted for Safoora Zargar and Gulfisha. Safoora and Gulfisha were arrested first in a case related to the anti-CAA protest in Jaffrabad. And when they were about to secure bail in that case, they were implicated in the riot case and arrested again under more stringent provisions. This was replicated in Asif's case too. It can easily be gleaned that all these arrests are part of a plan to put students in prison for a prolonged duration.
Another common feature of all the arrested is that they were all in the forefront of the anti-CAA agitation. The regime is aiming at two birds with one bullet: one, intimidate and silence the student leaders who kept the fire of citizenship protests burning. Two, put the blame of the the sangh parivar-engineered Delhi riots on the citizenship protests. Obviously it was a plan on this two-pronged goal that was made under the leadership of Amit Shah.
In fact the central government views the Covid situation and the lockdown as an opportunity to use high-handed methods, decimate federalism and introduce privatisation in strategic sectors. On another level, it also wants to exploit the situation to hunt down and crush the leading organisers of the citizenship protests, which had given a major challenge to the BJP government. Evidently the arrests of student leaders one after the other is a part of this game plan. Therefore, it is very important to keep speaking up on this and to keep pronouncing aloud the name of each student involved.