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Delhi Police files chargesheet against 2012 anti-rape protesters

Anti-rape-protest-India

Activists chargesheeted for anti-rape protest at former Delhi CM’s house, against the gang rape and death of a young woman in 2012

By Team FI
Women, students and youth activists of various organizations have demanded that the charge-sheet filed by Delhi police against them for protesting the December 16, 2014 Delhi gang-rape of a paramedic, be withdrawn. Those charge-sheeted include Kavita Krishnan, Secretary, All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA), Anmol Rattan from Delhi University, and Om Prasad from JNU, both activists from All India Students’ Association (AISA) and Aslam Khan of Revolutionary Youth Association (RYA).

The Delhi Police has filed charge-sheets against activists for their participation in a protest held on 19 December, 2012, at Sheila Dixit’s house.

The organizations issued a press release in protest of the charge-sheet, demanding immediate withdrawal of the case against all the anti-rape protestors. It also questioned the rationale behind the action. “The BJP, at that time, had attacked the Congress Govt and the Delhi Police for its brutality to anti-rape protesters. Why, now, is the Delhi Police under the BJP Govt filing charge-sheets against the same protesters now?” the press release quoted the activists.

The organizations suspect the timing of the action is keeping in mind the upcoming elections in Delhi University and Jawaharlal Nehru University where the AISA is “a major contender.”

“We shall continue to protest with thousands of others and demand the right of women, as well as of everyone, including men and women from Dalit, Muslim and other marginalized identities, to be free and adventurous, as we did on 19 December. If this Government and the Delhi Police holds that this as a crime deserving our arrest, so be it,” the activists have declared according to the press release.

Here is the full text of the statement issued by AIPWA, AISA and RYA:
The Delhi Police has informed activists of AISA, RYA and AIPWA, including AIPWA Secretary Kavita Krishnan, AISA activists Anmol Rattan of DU and Om Prasad of JNU, and RYA activist Aslam Khan that a charge-sheet has been filed against them for their participation in a protest on December 19th 2012 against the December 16th rape, at Sheila Dixit’s house.

This protest action had been one of the key protests that galvanized more protests all over Delhi and the country. At this protest, the Delhi Police had used water cannons for the first time against the anti-rape protesters. Also, a speech made by AIPWA Secretary Kavita Krishnan at that protest, went viral with thousands of people across the country feeling that it reflected their own sentiments. Over 57,615 people till date viewed the YouTube video of the speech, that asserted women’s right to be “adventurous”, rejected curbs on women’s freedom in the name of “protection”, and demanded that Governments protect women’s right to “fearless freedom.” The speech had been spontaneously translated into many Indian languages as well as English, and shared. In many ways, that protest, and the speech made at that protest, came to symbolize, for people in India and all over the world, the spirit of the anti-rape protests in Delhi.

Police brutality, high-handedness and harassment against protesters were notorious at the time – even the Justice Verma Committee commented on it.

It is highly unlikely that leading December 2012 anti-rape protesters would have been charge-sheeted by the Delhi Police more than a year later, without a political green-signal from above. The Delhi Police falls under the Union Home Ministry. Why are the charge-sheets being filed against key AISA organisers in DU and JNU, days before DUSU and JNUSU polls where AISA is a major contender?

The BJP, at that time, had attacked the Congress Govt and the Delhi Police for its brutality to anti-rape protesters. Why, now, is the Delhi Police under the BJP Govt filing charge-sheets against the same protesters now?

Clearly, the Modi regime, like the Manmohan Singh regime before it, holds protesters, especially those who speak of women’s freedom, to be criminals.

Just as the anti-rape protesters anticipated way back in December 2012, ‘protection’ for women from ‘love jehad’ and ‘rape’ has quickly come to mean moral policing and restrictions on freedom. Even as this charge-sheet is filed against people agitating for women’s freedom, Sangeet Som, the BJP MLA who incited mobs in Muzaffarnagar, has again called for a ‘mahapanchayat’ – this time against ‘love jehad’. Leaders of such mahapanchayats are the same khaps that kill daughters and their lovers – in the name of ‘honour.’ Now, in the name of the ‘love jehad’ bogey, they will legitimize harassment of inter-community couples, and justify family/community/khap surveillance on adult women. Recently, the Gujarat police issued posters asking parents to maintain surveillance on their daughters’ mobile phones. For such reactionary and patriarchal politics, the very idea of ‘women’s freedom’ and the freedom of young women and men to love each other without fear is dangerous.

The AISA, AIPWA and RYA demand that the case against all protesters in the anti-rape agitation of 2012-13, including its own activists, be withdrawn immediately.

The charge-sheeted activists declared, “We and thousands of others will continue to protest and demand the right of women, as well as of everyone, including men and women from Dalit, Muslim and other marginalized identities, to be free and adventurous, as we did on December 19th. If this Government and the Delhi Police holds that this is a crime deserving our arrest, so be it.”

Meena Tiwari, General Secretary, AIPWA
Sucheta De, President, All India Students’ Association, AISA
Ravi Rai, General Secretary, Revolutionary Youth Association, RYA