Arundhati Roy compares CAA and NRC with Hitler’s Nuremberg law

New Delhi, December 16 (KMS): Press Club of India drew a big crowd where author Arundhati Roy and several activists held a press conference marking two years of police attack on Jamia Millia Islamia during anti-CAA protests. They pledged to uphold the memory of police violence alive.

The speakers, lashing out at the government for inaction, demanded that the police officials who ordered and conducted raids on the protesting students in Jamia as well as Aligarh Muslim University should be brought to justice.

The press meet was addressed by, besides Arundhati Roy, activists Farah Naqvi and Radhika Chitkara, Fawaz Shaheen, Nodeep Kaur, Banojyotsna Lahiri, Farzana Yasmeen; and student leaders Akhtarista Ansari and Anugya Jha.

Speaking on the occasion, Farah Naqvi said they have gathered to fight against the amnesia to stop us. “We shall speak and we must speak,” Naqvi said, underlining the importance of eyewitnesses, fact-finding and journalism.

“When the Centre challenged the fact-finding report, they basically challenged the truth.”

Author Arundhati Roy called Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens same as Hitler’s Nuremberg law which are anti-Muslim and anti-poor. “Jamia, AMU and JNU students were attacked because they stood up against these laws,” Roy said.

She said that the RSS has taken over the national institutions.

Activists Radhika Chitkara who is associated with People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) alleged that police used excessive force with the aim to inflict maximum harm on the Jamia students and people living in the neighbouring areas.

Describing the horrors of the December 15 night when police stormed Jamia and AMU campuses, Fawaz Shaheen recalled how police hindered their way when they rushed to Jamia in a bid to provide medical aid to injured students. “When we told them that we need to get medical aid for students, that’s when we were allowed,” he said, adding that thereafter he and his colleagues drove off to Aligarh to take stock of the situation in the aftermath of the attack. “We saw a huge Rapid Action Force (RAF) contingent right outside, and the gate of the campus was down on the floor,” Shaheen said as he recounted the two-year-old scenes to the battery of journalists. I am an alumnus of AMU and trust me, I have never seen a place so quiet, poora sannata tha wahan.”

Akhtarista Ansari, a direct victim and witness to the police violence at the Jamia campus, claimed that her university was targeted because of its Muslim minority status. “It is important to understand that protests are held at other campuses but what happened in Jamia was different. They barged inside the campus and attacked students who were offering Namaz inside the masjid. The police used foul language against Muslim students,” she said.

Ansari said she was proud of Jamia standing up for what is right. “We showed how Muslim student can raise voice,” she said, adding that they cannot be silenced even if police puts them in jail or slaps UAPA against them. “The examples are Asif Iqbal and Safoora,” referring to the two Jamia student leaders who have got bail in Delhi riots conspiracy case despite being booked under the UAPA.

She hailed incarcerated student leader Sharjeel Imam who is seen as architect of the iconic Shaheen Bagh sit-in after giving a call for a road block. “We should remember that Sharjeel Imam is in jail for coming up with the model that made farmers protest successful,” Ansari said.

Farzana Yasmeen, whose brother was arrested in April 2020 in connection with a Delhi riots case, demanded release of all activists “held in fake cases”.

Labour rights activist Nodeep Kaur called for support and solidarity among protest movements.

Activist Banojyotsna Lahiri termed the attack on Jamia and AMU a “winter of despair” and the subsequent Shaheen Bagh sit-in a “spring of hope”.

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