Rights

More Than 400 Academics, Activists Condemn Arrests of Disha Ravi, Nodeep Kaur, Others

"We stand by the youth activists who have shown the courage to stand up for themselves, their fellow human beings, the future of the nation, and the health of the planet."

New Delhi: A group of more than 400 academics and activists have issued a statement condemning the recent arrests of environmental activist Disha Ravi, labour rights and anti-caste activist Nodeep Kaur and others. These arrests, the statement says, are part of the Centre’s larger tactics of repression, through with it has been targeting rights activists, student leaders and members of the minority community.

“Various Indian law enforcement agencies and state governments have sought to intimidate, discredit, and prosecute students and young activists alongside other groups, such as farmers, laborers, academics, journalists, comedians, and ordinary citizens, for merely exercising their right to disagree with and question the Government, and support struggles they deem just and important,” the statement reads.

Signatories include historian Ramachandra Guha, economist Jean Dreze, linguist Ayesha Kidwai, political scientist Prakash Kashwan and many others.

Also read: The Courage to Think and the Spectre of Dissent

“We stand by the youth activists who have shown the courage to stand up for themselves, their fellow human beings, the future of the nation, and the health of the planet,” the signatories have said, while calling for the immediate release of those arrested.

Read the full statement and list of signatories below.

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We, the undersigned, condemn the arrest of Disha Ravi, a 22-year-old youth climate and social activist, who the Delhi Police arrested from her home in Bengaluru without following due process. We note that Ravi’s arrest adds to the growing number of instances in which the Government has targeted social justice and human rights activists, including the 23-year-old Dalit labour rights activist, Nodeep Kaur, who was arrested on 12 January from the site of Farmers’ Protests near the Singhu border and who has reportedly been tortured in police custody. Indeed, students and young activists, especially from minority communities, have been facing persecution by the Central Government for a long time now, simply because they chose to speak up as conscientious citizens of this country.

Various Indian law enforcement agencies and state governments have sought to intimidate, discredit, and prosecute students and young activists alongside other groups, such as farmers, laborers, academics, journalists, comedians, and ordinary citizens, for merely exercising their right to disagree with and question the Government, and support struggles they deem just and important.

Young people asking questions and protesting against injustice are upholding the most valued tenets of democracy. The increasingly repressive tactics employed by the Government to stifle these voices, create an environment of suspicion, instil fear, and curb any critical discussion and dialogue will undermine India’s democracy. We should strive to be a society in which people, especially the youth, are unafraid to ask questions and have the freedom to stand for democracy, secularism, and human freedoms.

Also read: ‘Right to Dissent Is Hallmark of Democracy, Allows Criticism of Govt’: Retired SC Judge

We stand by the youth activists who have shown the courage to stand up for themselves, their fellow human beings, the future of the nation, and the health of the planet.

We demand that Disha Ravi, Nodeep Kaur and others, arrested merely for supporting the farmers movements and for protesting against the Government, be released, and all charges against them dropped. We also demand that warrants of a similar nature against others be withdrawn.

We demand that law enforcement agencies stop using anti-terror laws to terrorise citizens and repeal the antiquated sedition laws, which have repeatedly been abused to repress peaceful protests.

We urge every conscientious citizen of India, and citizens of the world, to ask questions of those in authority. We intend to keep asking questions of the Indian Government, whose leaders and officials have been speaking for the environment and human rights in global forums while engaging in blatant violations at home.

Name

Location

Prakash Kashwan

Connecticut, US

Anish Vanaik

West Lafayette, Indiana, US

Babu Rao Kalapala

Hyderabad, India

Ayesha Kidwai

Delhi, India

Onkar Khebudkar

Pune, India

Arunima G

New Delhi, India

Athul George Appadan

Thrissur (Trichur), India

Vandana Singh

Framingham, Massachusetts, US

Ritty Lukose

New York, New York, US

Prava Rai

Pune, India

meghna dasgupta

India

Carol Upadhya

Bengaluru, India

Sanchari Sur

India

Sonali Sarma

Thane, India

Ananya Vajpeyi

New Delhi, India

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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US

Aditi Chandra

Palo Alto, California, US

Burhan B

Surat, India

Vivek Monteiro

Mumbai, India

Malavika Jha

Pune, India

Pranay Mane

Mumbai, India

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Delhi, India

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Vancouver, Canada

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Mumbai, India

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Pune, India

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India

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mumbai, India

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Delhi, India

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Mumbai, India

Joby Joseph

Hyderabad, India

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Bharati Jagannathan

New Delhi, India

Radhika Chadha

New Delhi, India

Anjali N

Noida, India

Ankita Pandey

Noida, India

Shivani Chandra

Delhi, India

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Delhi, India

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