Family of those detained in 2020 Delhi riots case seek justicetext_fields
New Delhi: Families of individuals arrested in relation to the 2020 Delhi riots and other cases gathered here on Saturday to demand justice, claiming that the accusations against their loved ones had been "strategically" constructed to "scare" those speaking out for the underprivileged.
Nargis Saifi, the wife of Khalid Saifi, an accused in the 2020 Riots case, claimed that many other people had been demonised as "anti-nationals" and detained together with her husband.
"Khalid used to hit the streets to raise the voice of citizens. Several others like Khalid have been labelled as anti-nationals and arrested. I barely accompanied him to the protests but now the situation is such that I am bound to speak up," Nargis said at a press conference.
She alleged that the "government has framed these charges very strategically to scare those who raise their voice."
The riots, which went on for three days, had erupted in northeast Delhi on February 24 after clashes between citizenship law supporters and protesters spiralled, leaving at least 53 people dead and around 200 injured.
As northeast Delhi became the epicentre of violence, clashes also broke out at Jaffrabad, Maujpur, Chandbagh, Khureji Khas, Bhajanpura, Dayalpur, Gokalpuri and other areas.
She further said their fight for justice has been "long and difficult" as Khalid has been booked under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
"Every parent wants to give their children the best possible life but I don't think it is possible for us anymore. Every time I step out of the house, my kids ask if I'm going to see their father and if he will return."
"Khalid is not even allowed to hug his children with both his arms as one of the hands is always held by the policemen when we meet him," she claimed.
Khalid has been booked under various sections of the Arms Act, UAPA, Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, and the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for the alleged conspiracy behind the Delhi riots in February 2020.
"Why is it that so many political activists are in jail today? Why is it taking so much time for them to get bail?" asked Colin Gonsalves, senior advocate at Human Rights Law Network (HRLN). He claimed that all the evidence provided by the police against those arrested are mostly documents which are "not admissible" in the courts and used "only to deny bail" to them.
Banojyotsna Lahiri, activist and friend of former JNU student Umar Khalid who is in jail in connection with the riots case, said, "The situation in the country got so ugly that even while speaking, we have been censoring ourselves.
"Everything has to be censored these days including what we write and what we speak. UAPA has been misused to silence the dissent and media trial to criminalise the dissent," she said.
Speaking about the 2020 Delhi riots, CPI-ML general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya alleged that UAPA has been particularly "used" against those who "raised their voice" in favour of minorities, Dalits and backward classes.
"We all know who stoked riots in Delhi during anti-CAA protest, we all know who used that "Goli maaro" slogan. UAPA was misused against those who raised their voice in favour of the minorities, Dalits and backward classes. This is nothing but an undeclared emergency," Bhattacharya alleged.
With PTI inputs