Delhi Police have falsely implicated dozens of Muslim youth in the ‘conspiracy’ to cause violence in North East Delhi in February 2020. Athar Khan is one of the accused imprisoned under the draconian law Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. The law is India’s most infamous tool at the hands of the government to suppress Human Rights.
Life and Activism
Khan was a Delhi resident and Business student at Sikkim Manipal University. When his father’s embroidery business collapsed after demonetization by the Indian government, Khan started working at a call center.
Earlier, he was involved in the Anti-corruption movement. He was associated with the Aam Aadmi Party, and in 2015, he campaigned for their candidate Kapil Mishra. His father claims Athar played a crucial role in Mishra’s victory. After a few years, Mishra left Aam Aadmi Party and joined the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. The friendship between the two took a U-turn.
In 2019, the citizenship protests engulfed many Indian universities. The Delhi Police, in retaliation, unleashed violence on the students of Jamia Millia Islamia. Khan was dejected by the physical attacks on students and joined the protests against the discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act.
Soon he gained the trust of protesters and passionately registered his democratic assertion.
Khan’s academic background helped him take care of the Police Permission and other significant activities. He started spending his days at the site as his responsibilities increased gradually.
Khan’s mother Noorjahan recalls him saying, “It is important to be there, I am doing this for all of us.”
In 2020, BJP leader Mishra approached Athar to campaign for him, but Khan refused due to ideological differences. Meanwhile, the North East ‘riots’ erupted in February. Consequently, Mishra targeted Khan for instigating violence, sharing an old photograph identifying him as the ‘mastermind.’
Circumstances of Arrest
In July 2020, five months after the riots, the Delhi Police summoned him for interrogation. He was later arrested from his home. Khan’s family claims that he was tortured during the interrogation. The Police repeatedly pressured him to identify his ‘comrades.’ Khan remained firm and refused to identify the protesters. He faced the consequences of his silence and faced incarceration.
Charges and Allegations
124(A) Sedition; Section 13, 16, 17, 18, of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act; Section 153(A) (Promoting enmity between the religious groups); Section 302 (Punishment for murder), Section 307 (Attempt to murder); section 353 (Assault or criminal force to deter public servant); 395 (Dacoity); section 34 (Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention).
Not yet released.