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Mainstream, VOL LIX No 27, New Delhi, June 19, 2021

Letter to the Readers, Mainstream, June 19, 2021

Friday 18 June 2021

Letter to the Readers, Mainstream, June 19, 2021

In a very important development, this week, the Delhi High Court passed three separate orders on June 15, 2021, which pointed out misuse of police powers and the wrongful use of anti-terror legislation Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for arresting people who have not committed acts of terrorism. Three Indian student activists Natasha Narwal, Devangana Kalita, and Asif Iqbal Tanha who had been arrested in May 2020, were granted bail on June 15 by the High Court.

In this episode, the Delhi police had charged two PhD students and women’s rights activists Narwal and Kalita of conspiracy to trigger riots and destabilise the government while protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC), and Tanha a BA student was accused of organising protests across Delhi. Justice Mirdul and Justice Bhambhani of Delhi High Court poked holes in the Police charge-sheet in the Northeast Delhi riots case saying that making inflammatory speeches, organising a blockade of road traffic, instigating citizens to protest are evidence of participation and organising protest but this could not be termed as terrorist activity. The constitution guarantees the right to protest which cannot be labelled as terrorism.

This case is yet another example of wrongful use of law to scuttle dissent; It is clear that the police have become habituated to misuse of power to wrongfully frame people and not likely will change its ways. Unfortunately, the courts will not punish police officers who cook up cases people under UAPA or such legislation …

The attitude of the Delhi police was on full display as it tried all sorts of tricks to delay & prevent the release of the prisoners already granted bail. They told the trial court that they needed several days to verify the addresses of the accused, who had been in prison for over a year. …

Delhi police also appealed to the Supreme court to stay the orders and to prevent bail to the student activists. On June 18, 2021, the Supreme Court ruled that it would not interfere with a Delhi High Court order granting bail, but it would at a later date examine the bail order since it had "pan-India ramifications".

The court must safeguard our democratic rights and liberties and keep highlighting the constitutional guarantees.

Tributes:

Sharmistha Chowdhury, leader of the CPI(ML) Red Star - a group of the far-left, a former journalist at the Calcutta newspaper the Telegraph and an organiser in the 2011-16 ‘Bhangar movement’, a public protest in West Bengal against the forceful acquisition of land for Power Grid Corporation of India. Sharmistha Chowdhury passed away on June 13, 2021

Legendary Indian sprinter Milkha Singh also known as the Flying Sikh died due to post-Covid complications on June 18, 2021. He won gold medals in the 1958 and 1962 Asian Games. He represented India in the Olympic games of 1956 in Melbourne, 1960 in Rome and 1964 in Tokyo.

Kenneth Kaunda, Zambia’s first president and one of the last of the generation of African leaders who fought colonialism, passed away on June 17, 2021, at the age of 97. Kenneth Kaunda had also been an active figure in the non-aligned movement in its heydays.

We pay our tributes to the above figures

June 19, 2021 – The Editors

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