Families of Political Prisoners narrate their tale of struggle and agony at SIO’s Iftar

by | Apr 19, 2022

New Delhi: Family members of several political prisoners, who were arrested on false UAPA charges related to Delhi Pogrom of February 2020 narrated their tales of struggle and agony in spending another Ramadan without their loved ones and expressed their continued determination to remain steadfast in their fight for justice. They were speaking at an Iftar Get-together organised by the Students Islamic Organisation of India (SIO) on Friday 15th April, 2022.

Adv. Fawaz Shaheen, National Secretary, SIO, stressed that the government is consistently trying muzzle the voices of dissent. “We will continue asking the questions from the government and stand with those who are behind bars for the same. Many political prisoners are away from their homes during Ramadan. We are trying to share the grief of their families in this blessed month with hope and prayers that they will be with us very soon”, he said. He continued, “There is no shred of doubt that our brethren are innocent. We stand by them and we testify it”.

Saima Khan, daughter of Saleem Khan, who has been locked up in jail since March 13, 2020, under the false accusation of involvement in the Delhi Riots noted how after being charged with UAPA, said that they had to endure comments like ‘yeh aatankwaadi log kahaan sey aatey hain?’ (where do these terrorists come from?), expressing her dismay and disappointment in how a false case is branding them as terrorist.

Afzal Khan, father of Athar Khan, a youngster behind bars, remembered that his son as an obedient, loving child. He recollects how he would ask for his permission before going to any of the protests. He felt emotional evoking how his son asked his uncle to take care of his mother and father before being arrested. “This is another Ramadan without him. I am sad but I am proud that my son stood and continues to stand by what is truth and right”

Yasmeen, sister of Meeran Haider, who was arrested on 1st April 2020 while he was engaged in relief work, was also present. She shared, “This is the third Ramadan he is away from us, but still there is hope and we believe that he will be released. I remember that after our mother had passed away, there was an announcement made for protest and Meeran left saying if we don’t raise the voices who would raise it”. She added that when she recently spoke to him, he said, “I’ am hopeful of the court that they would release me one day. I am not in jail because I am guilty but rather because I spoke the truth and the court will see that.”

Khalid Saifi’s wife Nargis was not present at the gathering but had expressed her thoughts through a telephonic call. She expressed her dismay and sorrow which she and her children felt as Khalid’s bail plea was rejected. She added, “Khalid always tries to hide his feelings, so that we do not worry about him, but the last time I spoke to him his voice was just sad, he was feeling ill and the jail authorities do not have any of the medicine he needs.”

Monis Khan, elder brother of Masood Ahmed, who was accused of sedition 5th October 2020, while he was on his way to Hathras to meet the alleged gang rape and death of a Dalit woman, also spoke at the gathering. He said, “UAPA is falsely being used to drive fear in the community and silent the community”. He added that the State would continue using UAPA as a tool to silent the voices of vibrant citizens.

Safoora Zargar, also an accused under UAPA, was present. She pointed, “Those who are inside do not have a support system as we do now. We need to raise our voices and people need to stand up against tyrant culture that is gaining momentum.”

Asif Iqbal Tanha, another UAPA accused, was present as well. He said, “We will continue to raise our voice. The purpose of UAPA is to seed fear in our hearts so we do not raise our voices against the unjust, but we will continue to stand by those who are oppressed”.

Nadeem Khan, Founder of United Against Hate (UAH) said, “I have seen the detention centres that has been built in Delhi and Assam. A major reason for them remaining empty are these heroes who stood up for the community and continue to stand even when they struggle in the prison. We need to remember our brothers and sisters and the sacrifices they and their families continue to do for the sake of justice and truth”

The Vice President of Jamaat-e-Islaami- Hind Saleem Engineer r was present at the gathering. “We need to remember that our brothers who are in the prison will not always remain in the prison and similarly those who are in power will not always remain in power.” He added “We have fought for this country, and we are hopeful that eventually it is those who are on the side of the truth will remain victorious”

A number of Iftar get-togethers have been planned in various states across the nation with academics, professionals and members of the civil society.


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