Gulfisha, Safoora Zargar and Ishrat Jahan: Release them NOW!

Hyderabad Muslim Women’s Forum

Statement Against Arrest and Torture of Anti-CAA Women Activists in Delhi

The Hyderabad Muslim Women’s Forum strongly condemns the targeted detention and arrest of Gulfisha, Safoora Zargar and Ishrat Jahan who were protesting peacefully and democratically against the CAA, NRC, NPR. We also denounce such tactics directed similarly against other activists, students and organizations. These attempts to intimidate through incarceration and false cases are even more shameful if not downright criminal, given the prevailing global health crisis when physical distancing is a matter of utmost priority and overcrowding of prisons a worldwide issue.

We are deeply disturbed, amidst the hundreds of cases and arrests, by the arrests of Gulfisha, Safoora Zargar and Ishrat Jahan who were in the forefront of anti-CAA protests and have been charged under sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) as well as with sedition and are languishing in Tihar jail. They have been denied access to their families or lawyers. The authorities are using false narratives to link the anti-CAA protests with the violence in Delhi in March 2020 to charge these women as key conspirators of the violence. Ironically, as was widely reported and documented, the actual instigators continue to enjoy impunity and remain free.

Ishrat Jahan, a former Municipal Councilor and active participant in anti-CAA protests in East Delhi’s Khureji area, is accused of attempt to murder during the Delhi violence and has been subjected to torture in jail. Gulfisha, student leader in the anti-CAA protests at Seelampur, is named in a FIR under false charges of sedition. Ishrat Jahan, a former Municipal Councilor and active participant in anti-CAA protests in East Delhi’s Khureji area, is accused of attempt to murder during the Delhi violence and has been subjected to torture in jail. . Safoora Zargar, a member of Jamia Coordination Committee and now in the second trimester of her pregnancy, has been slapped with charges of being a key conspirator of the Delhi violence. Furthermore, the misogynistic trolling on social media about her personal life—her marital status and pregnancy—is utterly reprehensible and outside all bounds of common decency..

We would like to register our protest against these arrests on the following grounds: One this is the wrong time to arrest more people to lodge in the overcrowded jails and subject them to dangers of Corona infection. Two, all the crimes that they are charged with are political crimes – conspiracies – that do not endanger the lives of any as of now. Three, it is illegal to deny these three women activists access to lawyers and visits by families. Four, during the time when the courts are functioning at their lowest capacity and least regularity, it is unfair for the government to arrest as they cannot access legal remedies.

It is strange that during a time when the country is facing lockdowns and untold hardships to millions of poor, migrant workers due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the authorities are investing their resources to persecute peaceful citizens and slapping false cases against them. We believe that these arrests at this time connote the vengeful and petty attitude of the government and the authorities and are intended to simply harass the women. We are dismayed at such anti-democratic curbs on the rights and civil liberties of these activists, and the risks placed to their health and safety. We also believe that the Corona threat is being used by the State as no legal remedy or public protests are possible now. We firmly believe that the filing of UAPA and sedition that do not give the relief of bail to the accused is a deliberate attempt to silence and threaten students, activists and organizations. We think these arrests are therefore undue and authoritarian use of power.

We salute the courage and determination of all three women and extend our whole-hearted support and solidarity to them. We demand the immediate and unconditional release of Gulfisha, Safoora Zargar and Ishrat Jahan as well as the dropping of all charges against them, including under the draconian UAPA. We also call for an immediate halt to all such malicious attacks, detentions and arrests of students, activists and organizations.

Signed/-

Hyderabad Muslim Women’s Forum

6th May 2020

Khalida Parveen, Activist Kaneez Fathima, Activist
Sabah Quadri, Help Hyderabad Asma Rasheed, Academic
Noorjahan Siddiqui, Activist Nazia Akhtar, Research Scholar
Nikhat Fatima, Activist Farzana Khan, Activist
Ayesha Faruqi, Retd. Professor Rubina Nafees, SAFA NGO
Asiya Khan, Activist Marjan, Research Scholar
Suneetha, A., Research Scholar Sherin B S, Academic
Asiya Shervani Mandakini, Advocate
Sajida Sultana, Academic Moqheeta, Social Worker
Sharifa Siddiqui, Counsellor Saadath, Activist
Alifiya, Advocate Raheela Khan, Activist
Sana Wahab, Advocate

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