Prayagraj (UP): In a tale of resilience and resistance, student activist Afreen Fatima recounts the tumultuous past year that has seen her family at the epicenter of a devastating series of events. Afreen's life, once marked by her activism and aspirations, has been eclipsed by countless court visits, battling to prove her home's legality and defending her father, Javed Mohammad, against severe allegations. A renowned activist in Prayagraj, Javed Mohammad's arrest and subsequent incarceration became a turning point for their family, leading to their home's demolition and a barrage of challenges that have tested their mettle.
On June 10, 2022, hours after Friday's violence erupted in Prayagraj, Javed Mohammad was taken into police custody. Accused of being the 'mastermind' and 'key conspirator' in the post-Friday prayer violence, he faced charges, including those under the National Security Act (NSA). The subsequent events were swift and severe. On June 11, Javed was officially arrested, and on June 12, the family's home was demolished, a public spectacle broadcasted across national television channels.
The destruction of their home was not merely an administrative action but a harsh statement, emblematic of what many termed 'bulldozer justice' or 'bulldozer vendetta.' Afreen's activism, especially during protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), had garnered attention. Consequently, her father's incarceration raised questions about a potential connection to her activism.
Reflecting on the past year in a The Quint’s interview, Afreen expressed her deep anguish, acknowledging the loss of her home and the absence of her father. "He has been the strongest pillar of the family, especially for me," she said, emphasizing his unwavering support and the void his absence had created. Despite the adversity, Afreen and her family stood united, demonstrating a profound resilience in the face of immense challenges.
Javed Mohammad's incarceration, according to Afreen, was not solely due to his activism but also his vocal stance against rising Islamophobia. The authorities' accusations and subsequent actions were perceived as collective punishment. The pattern, as Afreen observed, was distressingly common. Families, she noted, were consistently dragged into the activism of their relatives, leading to widespread criminalization and vilification, a reality she and her family have endured.
In light of the current atmosphere in India, Afreen felt a pervasive sense of insecurity. "Any person, it does not have to be someone who is politically or socially active...at any point, the police can barge into your home and arrest you for no crime at all," she said. Afreen acknowledged this fear wasn't exclusive to her; it was a pervasive concern shared by many.
The demolition of their home was not just an isolated incident; it was a potent symbol, Afreen argued. It served as a message to the Muslim community, indicating that dissent would not be tolerated. Moreover, it was a broader message to the Hindu majority, shaping a chilling vision of a nation where Muslims' homes, livelihoods, and families were demolished, underscoring the stark divide within the society.
Despite the challenges, Afreen maintained her resolve. While she has reduced her social media presence, it isn't out of fear but due to the overwhelming demands of court proceedings. Fighting for justice, she asserted, was a herculean task, with the process itself often feeling like a form of punishment.
Throughout this ordeal, Afreen's family, like many others, has become a symbol of resistance against injustice. Afreen's fight for her father's freedom and their family's rights underscores the ongoing struggle for justice in India's complex sociopolitical landscape.
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New Delhi, Dec 11: India has described as "fake" and "completely fabricated" a media report claiming that a "secret memo" was issued by New Delhi in April to take "concrete" measures against certain Sikh separatists, including Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said on Sunday that the report is part of a "sustained disinformation campaign" against India and the outlet that published it is known for propagating "fake narratives" peddled by Pakistani intelligence.
The report was published by online American media outlet "The Intercept".
"We strongly assert that such reports are fake and completely fabricated. There is no such memo," Bagchi said.
"This is part of a sustained disinformation campaign against India. The outlet in question is known for propagating fake narratives peddled by Pakistani intelligence. The posts of the authors confirm this linkage," he added.
"Those who amplify such fake news do so only at the cost of their own credibility," Bagchi said, responding to media queries on the report.
In September, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau levelled the allegation of "potential" involvement of Indian agents in the killing of Khalistani extremist Nijjar on Canadian soil on June 18.
India strongly dismissed the charges, terming them "absurd".
"The Intercept", in its report, claimed that the Indian government issued instructions on a "crackdown scheme" against certain Sikh entities in western countries.
It further claimed that the secret memorandum issued by the MEA in April lists several "Sikh dissidents under investigation by India's intelligence agencies, including the Canadian citizen, Hardeep Singh Nijjar".