New Delhi: Asif Iqbal, a student of Jamia Milia Islamia, an active leader in the anti-CAA protests and member of SIO has been arrested by the Delhi police on trumped-up charges. Asif is the latest among Jamia students and other anti-CAA activists who have been arrested during the lockdown. Like all previous arrests, the police have put forward no hard evidence to justify his arrest.

It must also be remembered that Asif has been harassed by the Delhi police and repeatedly called for interrogations many time in the last five months, ever since the anti-CAA protests began in December last year. Despite finding no evidence of any unlawful activities, the police have repeatedly questioned and harassed him under different pretences, including during the lockdown period, and finally arrested him.

We know for a fact that this repeated harassment followed by the arrest is not for any crime Asif may supposedly have committed. His only crime has been exercising his constitutional right to question the government and assert his status as a free citizen of India. This is the same crime for which Meeran Haider, Safoora Zargar and many others have been arrested.

During a debilitating national health emergency when all our collective efforts must be directed towards fighting Covid-19 and easing the pain of the severe lockdown for our poorest and most vulnerable fellow citizens, the Delhi Police has been carrying out the agenda of silencing democratic voices and leadership. The only purpose of these arrests is to put fear in the hearts of all those who question this government and their bigoted agenda and to ensure that the movement for equal citizenship that has ignited across the country does not continue after the lockdown is lifted.

We stand firmly by Asif Iqbal and everyone who is being harassed, hounded and arrested for exercising their most fundamental natural rights. Asif and all other students and activists must be released immediately not only because their arrests are wrongful, but because their continued incarceration is a blot on the constitution itself. The current crisis is a litmus test for the constitution and the system of rights that hold this country together, said Labeed Shafi (President, SIO of India)