UN human rights experts on Friday called on India to release protesters who were detained two months ago when they were protesting against the new controversial citizenship law that is seen as discriminatory against Muslims.
“Authorities should immediately release all human rights defenders who are currently being held in pre-trial detention without sufficient evidence, often simply on the basis of speeches they made criticising the discriminatory nature of the CAA [Citizenship Amendment Act],” the experts said in a statement.
They also drew attention to the attitude towards protesters, such as denying bail to them and invoking charges carrying heavy sentences.
Cases against as many as 11 individuals such as Safoora Zargar, Sharjeel Imam, Akhil Gogoi and Natasha Narwal, among others, include serious allegations of human rights violations, the experts said. Several of these relate to due process failings during arrest and detention, as well as allegations of torture and ill-treatment, they added.
“One of the most alarming cases concerns pregnant Delhi studebeen provided adequate medical care or diet,” the statement added. “She was finally granted bail on 23 June, in her sixth month of pregnancy, on humanitarian grounds.”nt Zargar, who was detained for over two months having allegedly been kept in conditions equating to solitary confinement, denied regular contact with her family and legal representative, and having not
“Although demonstrations ended in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and India’s Supreme Court issued a recent order to decongest jails because of health concerns related to the pandemic, protest leaders continue to be detained. The reported spread of the virus in Indian prisons makes their immediate release all the more urgent,” the experts said.
The CAA passed late 2019 grants citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Christians from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh but blocks naturalization for Muslims.