Indian diaspora demands withdrawal of charges against 18 students, activists in India

New York, January 27 (KMS): Indian diaspora living in different countries of the world have voiced concern over the prosecution of 18 students and activists under a draconian law for challenging the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and sought immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all charges against them.

The wide-ranging global actors in a statement said they “believe the students and activists are being targeted as reprisal for their democratic dissent against the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019.”

The representatives of diaspora groups South Africa, Australia, Canada, USA, UK, Germany, Netherlands and New Zealand in a statement while demanding the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all charges under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), against the Delhi 18 – a reference to 18 students and activists.

These students and activists include Sharjeel Imam, Ishrat Jahan, Khalid Saifi, Tahir Hussain, Saleem Malik, Mohammad. Saleem Khan, Meeran Haider, Shadab Ahmed, Gulfisha Fatima, Tasleem Ahmed, Shifaur Rehman, Athar Khan, Umar Khalid, Safoora Zargar, Faizan Khan, Asif Iqbal Tanha, Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita. Of the 18, thirteen are Muslims languishing in jail for over a year as of January 2022 without any crime.

David Shoebridge, a member of the Australian Parliament, urged the politicians and those concerned with human rights around the globe to raise their voice against the prosecution of brave students and activists branded as ‘terrorists’ by the Indian state.

Govind Acharya, India Country Specialist, Amnesty International described their arrest as “a crackdown against free expression” and called for their immediate release.

The organisations which signed the statement included Hindus for Human Rights, USA; International Council of Indian Muslims, worldwide; International Solidarity for Academic Freedom in India, Worldwide; People Against Apartheid and Fascism, South Africa; the Humanism Project, Australia; Dalit Solidarity Forum,USA; Chicago Coalition for human rights in India, USA and Scottish Indians for Justice, Scotland among others.

Another joint statement released by the Front Line Defenders, CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, FIDH, World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), urged authorities in India to immediately and unconditionally release all human rights defenders arrested for protesting against the CAA, dismiss all charges, and cease all forms of harassment against them.