Over 20 film personalities including Anurag Kashyap, Ratna Pathak, Mahesh Bhatt, Vishal Bhardwaj, on Sunday released a statement raising their voice against the witch hunt of students and activists protesting the Bill by Delhi Police.
In the ongoing people vs the government battle over the CAA, NRC crisis, the nation saw mass student protests urging the government to call back the draconian law. Between February 23 and 26, clashes broke out in Jaffarabad, in North East Delhi, where a sit-in by women against India’s Citizenship Amendment Act had been in progress subsequently leading to the infamous North East Delhi Riots, which killed 53 people and injured hundreds. The Anti-CAA protests saw mass student participation, especially from Jamia campus. Jamia Millia Islamia students Meeran Haider and Safoora Zargar, have been arrested by the police for their alleged role in organising protests against the Citizenship Act. Haider, 35, is a PhD student and the President of RJD Youth Wing’s Delhi Unit; Zargar is an M. Phil student of Jamia Millia Islamia, both Haider and Zargar are members of the Jamia Coordination Committee (JCC), a group of current and former students of the university. UAPA has been slapped on both the students on alleged charges of conspiracy, sedition and promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion in relation with the above mentioned riots. Former JNU student Umar Khalid has also been booked under the same act. According to the FIR, the communal violence was a ‘premeditated conspiracy’ which was allegedly hatched by the two students and Umar Khalid.
Over 20 film personalities including Anurag Kashyap, Ratna Pathak, Mahesh Bhatt, Vishal Bhardwaj, on Sunday released a statement raising their voice against the witch hunt of students and activists protesting the Bill by Delhi Police. The joint statement raised concerns over this crackdown of students while the world is grappling with the Coronavirus outbreak, forcing us indoors. “The lockdown cannot be a lockdown of rights of the citizens, and must not be abused by the authorities in any manner. These actions of Delhi Police are utterly inhumane and undemocratic”, the joint statement read. Hashtags like NoLockdownRights and stopthewitchhunt were used by the famous filmmaker Anurag Kashyap. The signatories termed this whole narrative of premeditated conspiracy a “twisted fairytale.” Urging the public to stand together and pointing out the grave misuse of power during lack of media coverage amidst the pandemic, signatories added,” We urge Delhi Police to stop abusing the lockdown, respect human rights of our fellow citizens and put an end to this witch hunt. We demand release of these students and activists.” The other signatories include artists Sushant Singh, Zeeshan Ayyub, Aparna Sen, Hansal Mehta, Ashwini Chaudhary, Ankur Tewari, Konkana Sen, Shruthy Menon, Mallika Dua, Shabana Ghoswami, music composer Vishal Dadlani among others.
These few voices from Bollywood have constantly came out raising their concern against crackdown on public dissent, calling out the bigoted law; while the whole lot of Bollywood maintains their silence and apolitical stance.
Rutba Iqbal is a student pursuing English Honors from Jamia Millia Islamia.
The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of The Jamia Review or its members.