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'If Speaking For Democracy Is A Crime, I Won't Stop': Atiq-ur-Rehman After Bail

Atiq-ur-Rehman walked out of jail after nearly three years. He was arrested along with journalist Siddique Kappan.

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Activist Atiq-ur-Rehman was released from the Lucknow district jail on Wednesday night, 14 June, after spending nearly three years imprisoned. The activist walked out of the jail premises chanting slogans of Inquilab Zindabad (Long live the revolution), as his friends and family waited to greet him. Speaking to The Quint on Thursday morning, Atiq said he is “relieved but not scared” after his time in the jail.

“It was a very challenging time in my life. I was punished for being a Muslim and speaking up for democracy. If speaking for democratic rights is a crime then I am a a criminal. But I will continue to do so,” Atiq told The Quint.

Rehman was arrested in October 2020 along with journalist Siddique Kappan and two others, while they were on their way to Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras to meet the family of the brutal gangrape victim.

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The four, including Rehman, were charged with The Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). While Rehman was granted bail by the Allahabad High Court in March 2023 in the UAPA case, he remained in jail because of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) case, under the under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). He was granted bail in the ED case in May.

'Targeted Only For Being Muslim'

Speaking to The Quint, Atiq said he believes that he and the others traveling with him were “arrested only for being Muslim.”

“Just days before we were en route to visit Hathras, Rahul Gandhi visited the victim’s family. As did RLD’s Jayant Chaudhary, and Bhim Aazad Samaj Party Kanshiram's Chandrashekhar Azad. So why couldn’t we go do the same? It’s clear this is because we are Muslims and the authorities wanted to communalise the entire issue,” Atiq said.

However, he maintained that he is not fearful.

“I am not scared of anyone except Allah. I haven’t done anything wrong, I haven’t committed any crime. I was punished for nearly three years for nothing, I have no reason to be scared,” he added.

Atiq insisted that he will continue to speak up for “justice and democracy.”

“It’s clear to me now that democracy in India isn’t the same as it was. It's a democracy that only exists in books now, but I will continue to fight to revive it. Because we cannot afford to go quiet,” Atiq said.

Kappan was released from jail on bail in February this year, a month after the release of Mohammad Alam, the driver.

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Alam was the one driving Kappan, Rehman and activist Masood Ahmed to Hathras when their car was intercepted by the police and they were placed under arrest.

'Authorities Didn't Take Care of My Health, Was Partially Paralysed': Atiq

While in jail, Atiq’s health also deteriorated significantly.

In September 2022, Rehman’s family had alleged that the left side of his body has been paralysed, accusing the jail authorities of negligence. Since 2002, Rehman has been suffering from a heart ailment called aortic regurgitation, in which the heart’s aortic valve does not close tightly. In November 2021, after an urgent plea was moved by Rahman’s family in the Allahabad High Court, he was taken for heart surgery in AIIMS, Delhi. The family had alleged that he wasn’t given proper post-surgery care in the jail due to which his condition has worsened.

“I fell extremely sick and the left side of my body got paralysed, because of the negligence of the authorities. I never got a follow up treatment which was absolutely necessary post my surgery. To be honest, I am only alive today because of the prayers of my family and well-wishers,” Atiq said.

Atiq’s wife and other family members had to adjust to a slew of lifestyle changes after his arrest, while trying to ensure he manages to get treatment inside the jail. The Quint had reported about how his family has struggled in the last three years since his arrest.

“My family has had to face countless trials and difficulties since my arrest. They have spent the last few years running from pillar to post to get me treated, to get me out of jail. I am thankful for their support and everything they have been through,” Atiq said.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  UAPA   UAPA accused   Atiq-ur rehman 

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