UAPA Against Students is Crackdown on Dissent: Amnesty India

Two Jamia students have been booked under UAPA in a case related to the communal violence in Delhi in February.

2 min read
A scene from violence hit northeast Delhi.

On Wednesday, 22 April, human rights organisation Amnesty International India condemned the Delhi Police’s decision to book two Jamia Millia Islamia University students under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, or UAPA, on the pretext that they instigated the communal violence in North East Delhi in February.

Avinash Kumar, Amnesty India’s executive director, said that the use of UAPA against Meeran Haider and Safoora Zargar is part of the Indian government’s “crackdown” of those who are critical of it.

He also said that using law as a weapon to suppress dissent is becoming a pattern of the government.

Kumar cited some other cases where the UAPA is being used in an allegedly similar manner.

These included the charges against Kashmiri photojournalist Masrat Zahra, who was booked under UAPA last week and the arrests of human rights activists Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha, who were accused in the Elgar Parishad/Bhima Koregaon case along with other activists and lawyers.

“Amnesty International India believes that these new cases under UAPA, along with previous arrests of eleven other activists in relation to the Bhima Koregaon incident, are politically motivated actions that are aimed at silencing those seeking state accountability.”
Avinash Kumar, Executive Director, Amnesty International India

He also argued that the Indian government has failed its obligation to protect human rights defenders and the right to freedom of speech.

The Students’ Arrest

The Delhi Police has added the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) to the FIR related to northeast Delhi violence in February, which names JNU student leader Umar Khalid, as well as the FIRs against Haider and Zargar.

On 2 April, the cops had arrested Meeran Haider, a PhD student at Jamia University, for allegedly conspiring to incite violence in Delhi. A few days later, Safoora Zargar was also arrested for allegedly obstructing the road near the Jaffrabad metro station during the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests in February. On Tuesday, both were booked under the UAPA and are in judicial custody.

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