Dr. Kafeel Khan, who was previously arrested in UP, wrote a letter to the chair of the subcommittee on Human Rights in the European Union, Marie Arena responding to a letter written by her to Amit Shah on political dissenters. Denouncing the Government’s continued attack on political dissenters, he thanked them for their continued support and urged them to show support towards all political prisoners. He also brought to light the terrible conditions they are subject to in prison.
Khan was previously imprisoned on two occasions without reason. In August 2017 also he was arrested for medical negligence after cessation of oxygen supply killed more than 60 children at the Baba Raghav Das Medical College in the eastern UP town of Gorakhpur, 270 km northeast of state capital Lucknow. After he spent almost nine months in prison for alleged medical negligence, a government-appointed inquiry acquitted Khan in September. After spending nine months in prison he received bail, but it was only two years later that he was absolved of all charges. But the UP Government ordered a fresh probe into Dr. Kafeel Khan.
Then, he was arrested in January from Mumbai by the UP Police, who alleged he made a “provocative speech” at Aligarh Muslim University during anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act protests. The Aligarh High Court granted him bail on 10 February but three days later, the Yogi Adityanath government in UP promulgated the 40-year-old National Security Act, 1980. He was one of the many peaceful political dissenters arrested during and in the fallout of the anti-CAA/NRC/NPR protests.
Dr. Kafeel Khan described the conditions as deplorable, and that he was tortured by prison officials. In a letter released from the Mathura prison, he wrote:
“I don’t know why I am being punished. I don’t know when I will be able to see my children, my wife, my mother and my brothers and sister. I don’t know when I will as a doctor, fulfil my duties and fight the menace of Coronavirus alongside my brethren.”
In his recent letter and twitter post, Dr. Kafeel Khan described the horrible conditions that prisons in India are in and asserted that political dissenters were being arrested on false charges. He also observed that in the fight against COVID-19, it is essential to engage as many as people as possible, and not lock them up.
Latter on Treatment of Political Dissenters
Thank you all for urging our Indian government to immediately release human rights defenders who have been arrested for peacefully protesting against changes in the nation’s citizenship laws and an upcoming national register for citizenship. Although Government didn’t listen to the appeal and many others (Umar Khalid, Prashant Kanojia, Akhil Gogoi, Anand Teltumbde, Gautam Navlakha, Khalid Saifi, Meeran Haider, Stan Swamy, Sharjeel Imam and 100s more )are still incarcerated behind the bars. Authorities are continue invoking counter-terrorism and national security legislation using procedural police powers against these human right defenders for raising issues which would affect India’s poorest and most marginalized community, violating international human right standards.
I was tortured mentally as well as physically, denied food and water for many days, and treated inhumanly during my 7 months of incarceration in a congested, overcrowded Mathura prison.
Fortunately,I got my NSA and all 3 extensions quashed by Hon’ble High CourtUttar-Pradesh, India which called the whole process illegal.
I believe in this era when COVID-19 is creating havoc in our country it is indeed essential to engage all strength and means to fight against the pandemic rather than using discretionary powers to suppress freedom of speech.
I assure you that my sanctification, devotion, and determination towards serving my countrymen would continue regardless of the obstacles created.
Once again I thank you all very much for supporting our cause and standing in solidarity with us and would appeal to continue raising our plight as many Human rights defenders/social activists/students are continue to be detained.
The use of stringent national security laws /UAPA against political dissenters, in the absence of any appeal to violence, is something to be condemned in all cases.
— Dr Kafeel Khan (@drkafeelkhan) October 13, 2020