Intellectual Noam Chomsky, authors Salman Rushdie, Amitav Ghosh and Arundhati Roy, activists Medha Patkar, historians Romila Thapar and Irfan Habib and filmmaker Mira Nair are among the 208 national and international personalities who have called for the release of Umar Khalid, arrested in the Delhi riots case, and all the others jailed for taking part in the protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the National register of Citizens (NRC).
They said that those arrested have been “falsely implicated” and the charges against them are “fabricated” in the investigations which is a “pre-meditated witch-hunt”. This is just another instance of criminalising dissent in the country, they said.
The Delhi Police arrested Khalid under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for allegedly hatching the conspiracy for the riots in northeast Delhi in February.
“We call on the Government of India to free Umar Khalid and all those falsely implicated and unjustly incarcerated for protesting against the CAA-NRC that denies equal citizenship rights,” a joint statement issued by the 208 people said.
Khald has been “charged with sedition and conspiracy to murder” under the UAPA. ”This process of criminalizing all dissent has been underway for a few years and even under a COVID 19 pandemic, relentless political arrests under fabricated charges are punishing the innocent long before they are brought to trial,” the statement said.
Pointing out that 19 of the 21 people arrested for the riots and protests and Muslims, they said, “These people are not terrorists, and the police investigation into the Delhi riots is not an investigation. It is a pre-meditated witch-hunt.”
Earlier in the day, a Delhi court sent Khalid in judicial custody till October 22 after his police custody ended following his arrest on September 13. He told the judge that wanted to meet his parents before he was shifted to the Tihar Jail. The court allowed the meeting if it can take place before the medical examination and other formalities for shifting him to Tihar jail are completed.