Crackdown: Student activists jailed & prisoners given parole amid lockdown

New Delhi: At a time when the administration started decongesting jails and releasing convicts and undertrials on parole to curb the spread of COVID-19, the Delhi Police seems to be unabated and is carrying out raids and arresting people in connection with north-east Delhi riots and violence in Jamia Millia Islamia.

On Saturday when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was discussing the future of the lockdown with Chief Ministers of different states via video conferencing, the husband of Safoora Zargar, an M.Phil student of Jamia Millia Islamia University was running from pillar to post to know the charges Delhi Police has slapped against his wife. Zargar has been arrested by north-east district police for her alleged involvement in Jafrabad sit-in protest and blocking the road.

However, the timing of the arrest has certainly raised questions, with many believing that the crackdown amid the lockdown is a strategy by the cops to muzzle the voices of dissent. Zargar, originally from Kashmir is an anti-CAA activist and media coordinator of Jamia Millia Coordination Committee. She was instrumental in arranging guest speakers during the CAA protests at Jamia Millia. She also participated in TV debates on CAA protests and raised questions on actions of the police against the students inside the university library on December 15.

"If raising voice against the government was her crime then is this the right time to act? Criminals are being released and students are imprisoned?" asked Anushesh Sharma, national secretary NSUI.

"Jamia students, Safoora, Meeran Haider, activists Khalid Saifi, Ishrat Jahan & hundreds of innocent Muslims from north-east Delhi are jailed on fabricated cases. The government is using the pandemic to defame Muslim community and simultaneously putting all vocal democratic voices from the community in jails," said Kawalpreet Kaur, Delhil president AISA.

Meeran Haider, a PhD scholar from Jamia Millia was earlier arrested by Special cell in connection with north-east Delhi riots.

Police might argue about the merit of the case but it is the "timing" of the arrest that has raised eyebrows. Some say that students and criminals shouldn't be treated alike during the lockdown and the cops should have waited for the situation to ease before making the arrests.

Many believe that the police action on Jamia student activists is an attempt to break the morale of the anti-CAA, NRC and NPR voices that might erupt again once the country gets over with the pandemic.

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