Muslims persecuted for faith in India, say families at US congressional briefing – Kashmir Media Service


Washington, DC, November 18 (KMS): Muslim prisoners of conscience jailed in India on false criminal charges continue to be beaten, tortured and other forms of violence for exposing the government’s persecution of religious minorities, said their families at a US Congressional Briefing titled “Prisoners of Conscience in India”.

The Indian American Muslim Council said in a statement that participants in the virtual briefing learned first-hand from family members of these POCs about how the Indian government jailed human rights defenders, religious minorities, journalists, students. and activists in bogus criminal cases – often accusing them of blasphemy, terrorism and sedition.

“My brother has always been a man who spoke out against injustice. He went to visit the family of the girl who was brutally raped and murdered. His only intention was to fight for justice, and they arrested him as if he was a terrorist, ”said Monis Khan, brother of Masud Ahmad.

Ahmad, a student leader, was arrested by Uttar Pradesh in October last year on his way to meet the family of a Dalit woman who had been raped and brutally murdered by senior men. caste in the district of Hathras.

Ahmed was charged under the draconian Illegal Activities (Prevention) Act and denied bail. He was a student at the prestigious University of New Delhi, Jamia Millia Islamia.

Khan rejected the police claim that Ahmed planned to incite violence in Hathras. “It’s been a year, and they still have no proof [against him] produce in court. He is treated like a terrorist for defending the rape victim. “

Nargis, the wife of Khalid Saifi, a human rights defender in prison since February 2020, said: “My husband is being punished for speaking out against the government. It breaks my heart to recount this incident, which made our lives miserable and made us feel how helpless we are. “

Saifi was arrested on false charges of planning sectarian violence. Ironically, this violence itself was directed against Muslims in the Indian capital, New Delhi, and was reportedly largely perpetrated by Hindu extremists affiliated with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

A cell phone video showed that Saifi simply approached the police on a street to talk to them, that’s when they literally kidnapped him and took him away. The next morning, when the police brought him to court, he was in a wheelchair with broken legs. Police charged him under the UAPA.

Saifi’s sister added, “He has three young children. They all miss their father. He is a great man who does everything for his children and his wife. His children ask questions about him every day: when can we see our father? When are we going to eat with him? When will we play with him? And we can’t even answer that question.

Speaking at the briefing, Syed Qasim Rasool Ilyas, a veteran of the Muslim movement, journalist and activist, said the international community should demand that India immediately release its political prisoners on bail.

“The way the government is moving here in India, we fear more difficult times are coming. It is a fascist government. It is an authoritarian government. Democracy is threatened, civil society is threatened, ”said Ilyas. “India is becoming an autocracy. And this is a concern for all of us, because India was the second democracy in the world. Now we are losing that status.

Ilyas’s son Umar Khalid has also been in prison since September 2020, also under UAPA for allegedly planning anti-Muslim violence in Delhi. A speech police cited as evidence actually shows Khalid urging protesters against India’s anti-Muslim citizenship law to continue their protests in a non-violent manner.

“The UAPA was used against a journalist without any evidence. In India, it is not possible for a journalist to work freely from the ground. He suffered many serious human rights violations in prison, ”said Raihanath Kappan, wife of Siddique Kappan, a journalist from Kerala, who was arrested along with Masud Ahmed and was jailed despite failing health and even loss. from his mother during incarceration.

Raju Rajagopal, co-founder of Hindus for Human Rights, cited reports that Indian police have charged more than 10,000 people under the UAPA, a law that Prime Minister Modi’s government amended to allow “anyone to be charged with a terrorist, even if they only protest against unjust laws or report violence against minorities.

Co-organizers of the congressional briefing included Amnesty International USA, 21Wilberforce, Hindus for Human Rights, Indian American Muslim Council, International Christian Concern, Jubilee Campaign, Dalit Solidarity Forum, New York State Council of Churches, Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations of North America, India Civil Watch International, Justice for All, Center for Pluralism, American Muslim Institution, International Society for Peace and Justice, Association of Indian Muslims of America and The Humanism Project.