On the occasion of India’s Republic Day, a global solidarity campaign by the Indian Diaspora groups releases a poster series calling attention to the persecution of 18 brave Indian students and activists who are being maliciously prosecuted by the Indian state. These 18 are among the leaders of the peaceful peoples’ protest movement that captivated India and the world against discriminatory changes made to India’s citizenship law in December 2019.
For standing up against the government’s aim to rewrite the inclusivity and secular nature of citizenship to India, the Delhi 18 have been falsely charged for instigating the mass violence that broke out in North East Delhi in February 2020 under India’s draconian anti-terror law, the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). They remain incarcerated for close to two years without trial. At present, there are no signs of the trial beginning. Hearings on bail remain pending for most of the 13 in jail.
In the period before the violence broke out, several leaders of India’s ruling political party, the Bharitya Janata Party, and Hindu nationalist figures gave speeches inciting hatred against Muslims and used social media to mobilise supporters. The Delhi Police have been alleged to be complicit by civil society organisations and other independent voices. No politician or police have been held to account so far.
The Delhi 18 are emblematic of the continuing attack on democratic freedoms and India’s pluralism by the current regime. Of the 18, 13 – all Muslims – have been in jail for over a year, with no signs of their trial beginning. It is of the utmost urgency to call for the dismissal of all charges against the Delhi 18, who join the growing list of political prisoners branded as “terrorists” by the Indian State for standing up against it.