Around 1350 signatories, including prominent activists, journalists, academics, and artists released a statement on August 6, 2020, titled “Nationwide condemnation of Delhi Police regarding their interrogation of Prof. Apoorvanand “.
The statement asserted that the interrogation of Prof. Apoorvanand was not a normal inquiry but part of a larger strategy to stifle dissenting voices and create a police state in India.
On August 3, the Special Branch of the Delhi police had called in Prof. Apoorvanand, and interrogated him for 5 hours in connection with the Northeast Delhi riots, and seized his phone. Prof. Apoorvanand has been critical of the politics of hate and violence carried out by the state in recent times. The current government has arrested, harassed, and targeted many activists and intellectuals in connection to the Delhi riots, and the Elgar Parishad case before that. The arrests include Anand Teltumbde, Varavara Rao, Chandrashekhar Azad, Hany Babu, Gulfisha Fatima, Safoora Zargar, Devangana Kalita, Natasha Narwal, Amulya Leona, and countless others. The statement said, “Under the omnibus FIR 59 of 2020 alone, more than 17 arrests have taken place already under the UAPA, and over two hundred have been arrested under sections of the IPC”.
The statement outline all the charges mentioned against Prof. Apoorvanand mentioned in the summoning- 43F of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, or UAPA, 19 sections of the IPC; two sections each of the Prevention of Damage of Public Property (PDPP) Act; two sections of the Arms Act; and, finally, four different sections of the UAPA.
The statement asserts that the arrests are an active attempt to frame those who have been critical of the government and participated in the Anti-CAA-NRC protests as being “masterminds” behind the violence in Delhi. Meanwhile, the police show complete inaction when it comes to investigating BJP leaders who have been seen instigating violence on public television.
The statement warned that this is the most serious crisis that the Indian democracy has faced since Independence, and is far more critical than Indira Gandhi’s emergency 45 years ago. The signatories wrote-
“We appeal to all citizens committed to the values enshrined in the Indian Constitution – freedom of speech, equality before the law, secularism – to resist this attempt to turn India into a police state where all dissent is criminalized under the most draconian laws. We demand that this systematic harassment of voices critical of the government and the blatant misuse of the law and the state apparatus be stopped immediately. If we fail to protest the muzzling of our democracy today, there may be no democracy left tomorrow.”