Muslim activist Sharjeel Imam completes 1000 days in prison over false charges
Prisoner of conscience and Muslim human rights activist Sharjeel Imam completed 1,000 days of incarceration on Saturday.
Imam was arrested in 2020 for protesting India’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janta Party’s (BJP) discriminatory policies, the anti-Muslim Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC). Imam has been charged under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for, among others, calling for road blockades to protest.
The government has claimed his speech was secessionist and inflammatory. They have also falsely claimed that his speeches led to violence.
Imam was one of the key leaders that triggered the historic 100-day-long sit-in by tens of thousands in the south Delhi Muslim neighborhood of Shaheen Bagh.
The students’ union of New Delhi’s prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), of which Imam was a student, had said his arrest was a matter of “Islamophobia, selective amnesia & bias” of the state apparatus. The JNU Teachers’ Association had said that the charges against Imam reflected “politicization” of the law enforcement agencies.
Nearly 150 students and alumni of several Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), where Imam had previously studied engineering, as well as other universities had also signed a letter in his support, claiming that his speech was quoted out of context. In an open letter, a group of students studying in prominent institutions demanded his release, highlighting Imam’s contributions as an academician, student, historian, and journalist.
Muslims in Madhya Pradesh unjustly fined on false charges of damaging property
Several Muslims in Madhya Pradesh’s Khargone district have been unjustly fined by Islamophobic officials on false charges of property damage that occurred during the anti-Muslim violence in April.
Haider, one of the 50 people fined for property damages, said he had received a notice to pay Indian Rupees 140,000 (USD 1,689) and 460,000 (USD 5,551) for “damaging” the house of a Hindu and a Hindu temple.
The fines have been levied under a controversial new law, the Madhya Pradesh Prevention and Recovery of Damages to Public Property Act. The law allows the government to seek compensation from offenders who damage public and private properties during agitations.
The defense attorney, Altaf Qureshi, said no damage was visible in pictures of the properties. “The case was constructed to frame and trouble these innocent people,” he said.
A Hindu extremist mob killed a Muslim and injured at least 24 others in anti-Muslim violence in Khargone in April. They also burnt down houses. After the violence, officials arbitrarily demolished homes and shops of Muslims. Muslim organizations and human rights groups across India had condemned the attacks.
Police to investigate Muslims for praying inside a train in Uttar Pradesh
Railway police have launched a probe after a video showing Muslims offering prayers in the corridor of a train coach went viral on social media.
Although no written complaint has been filed yet, railway police officials have said that they will investigate the incident.
The video was shared by a former BJP lawmaker from Uttar Pradesh, Deeplal Bharati. The video shows four people praying in the train’s walkway and a person sitting on a seat asking people to wait with a hand gesture.
“We are looking into the matter and if passengers faced any kind of problem during their journey,” police officer Awdhesh Singh said.
Muslims across India are increasingly being penalized for praying in public.
In July, Uttar Pradesh Police arrested seven persons after a video showed some men offering namaz at a shopping mall in Lucknow, the state’s capital. Also in July, police in neighboring Uttarakhand state arrested eight people in Haridwar city for offering the namaz publicly. The BJP rules both Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
In June, a professor in Aligarh, a city in Uttar Pradesh, was sent on a month’s leave after he prayed on the lawns of his college. In May, four tourists were arrested for praying in a mosque inside the Taj Mahal.
Legal experts have held that arresting people for offering prayers in public is an act not backed by Indian law.
BJP leader assaults Dalit man and shaves his head on suspicion of theft
A Dalit man was assaulted, his face blackened and his head shaved by a local BJP leader Radheshyam Mishra and others on suspicion of stealing a toilet seat in Uttar Pradesh’s Bahraich district.
Visuals of a mob assaulting the 30-year-old daily wage earner Rajesh Kumar, a Dalit, have gone viral.
Mishra is on the run, but two of his aides have been arrested, the police said.
In the video of the assault, a crowd can be seen cheering on and recording videos as his head is shaved and face blackened.