Statement issued at the press conference at Press Club of India, New Delhi.
A.S Ismail, Popular Front of India North Zone President, in a strongly worded statement has said that arrest of Muslim youths branding them as Popular Front activists by UP police is nothing but an act of revenge against Popular Front. Among thousands of protesters arrested in the first round in December 2019, only 25 were alleged to be Popular Front members.
The authorities allege that Popular Front is behind the violence in the anti-CAA protests in the state. Intense anti-CAA protests have been going on everywhere across the country for weeks, and all of them are conducted peacefully. But in the BJP ruled states of UP, Assam and Karnataka the governments using its power and police are unleashing violence in the protests by shooting the protesters, arresting the them in mass, beating up the Muslims and vandalising their properties. And they put the violence on the shoulder of the protesters. The chief minister of UP had at the outset itself declared that he would take revenge against the protesters, and the police are following this dog whistle. The police have shot dead as many as 23 protesters in UP.
Popular Front is part of the anti-CAA protests wherever it has presence. Popular Front has no State Committee in the state of UP. It has only an Adhoc-committee there consisting of 8 members. Three of them, Waseem Ahmed (Convener), Nadheem and Ashfaq (members) were arrested in the first round and they were released on bail by the court, along with the other 22 youths who were alleged to be Popular Front members. Though Popular Front has tens of thousands of supporters, there are no other members in the state in the organization. Many media had reported that police couldn’t find any sort of involvement of Popular Front in the so-called violence. The police had also failed to produce any evidence in the court to substantiate its allegation, said Ismail.
Popular Front of India, as an organization abiding by the law of the land is committed to work peacefully and democratically, and so around one and half decades of functioning, it has never been involved in violence or illegal activities, and as a matter of fact, there is no question of getting any evidence against its involvement in violence.
Despite the authorities being able to produce any evidence of violence against Popular Front, they are still on with arrest of youths alleging them to be Popular Front members involved in “violence.” As per the latest media reports, 108 “Popular Front members” were arrested in the last four days, and it seems this witch-hunt would continue.
The latest provocation that triggered the ongoing arrests seems to be the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed in the Allahabad High Court by the Popular Front Adhoc-committee member Mufti Shahzad seeking judicial probe by a sitting or retired judge of Supreme Court/High Court into the police atrocities and illegal arrests of Muslims. The Special Bench chaired by the Chief Justice that heard the petition on 27th January has posted it on 17th February for the government to file counter-affidavit.
Despite the PIL and court query, the police continue its hunt of Muslims unbridled. Besides arresting men, they are threatening and beating up Muslim women and old men. The family members of Mufti Shahzad and the victims who had sent complaints against the police excess in Shamil, Kairana, Meerut, etc. too were threatened, beaten up and manhandle by police.
Popular Front is not going to withdraw from the legal recourse initiated in the High Court. It will continue to fight against the atrocities of the UP Police before the court of law and provide legal aid to the victims of police excesses and arbitrary arrests, added Ismail.
Popular Front strongly condemns the coward act of the inhuman Yogi government and its police of making false allegations against the organization and the recent arbitrary arrests, and calls upon the Muslim community and secular forces to come forward to raise voice against the Yogi's jungle raj, said Ismail.
A.S.Ismail, (North Zone President)
Anis Ansari (Zonal Secretary)
Waseem Ahmed ( Adhoc Committee)
Ashfaq (Adhoc Committee)
Nadheem (Adhoc Committee)