Several anti-CAA activists and students have been arrested by the police in the past couple of months and incarcerated under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). The FIRs on the basis they have been arrested contains no averment, let alone proof, that any of them have committed a single violent act. The suspicion, therefore, is that they have been targeted and charged for merely holding or expressing a different point of view.
Of course, the official Delhi Police claim that they have been “arrested for allegedly hatching a conspiracy to incite the communal riots in February.”
To beef up these allegations, “The students have also been booked for the offences of sedition, murder, attempt to murder, promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion and rioting.”
According to the Economic Times: “Police have filed over 700 cases and arrested or detained 3,400 people in connection with the communal violence in northeast Delhi last month, officials said on Saturday [March 14, 2020].”
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However, till date, the names of those arrested or detained have not been made public, although furnishing the details of those arrested and in custody to the concerned families is necessary.
The general public has a right to know who the arrested and detained suspects are. How will the families know whether their missing member is dead or alive? The detained have a right to legal defence, but how will their families arrange legal defence if they are unaware that a family member is under detention?
What if many of the detained are actually victims and/or witnesses and the real culprits are roaming free? Also, there has to be public accountability for the health and safety of those in custody during the period of trial/detention.
While the 3,400 suspects in the north-east Delhi riots arrested or detained by the Delhi Police include Hindutva foot-soldiers and RSS members too, there has been no effort to investigate, let alone proceed against leaders of the ruling BJP who made inflammatory speeches in the run up to the violence.
Thus, one of the main alleged instigators, BJP politician Kapil Mishra, as well as Union minister of state for finance Anurag Thakur, who delivered an inflammatory speech on January 27, 2020, Parvesh Verma, who delivered an inflammatory speech on January 28, 2020, and Abhay Verma, who made a provocative statement on February 25, 2020, to arouse communal passions, continue to remain free.
(With inputs from The Wire and others)