Atikur Rahman

Activist Atikur Rahman was arrested in October 2020 in Uttar Pradesh along with Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan on his way to Hathras.


The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Hindu nationalist party led by current Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has been strategically targeting Indian journalists and activists, specifically those critical of the Indian government, since it took power in 2014. According to The Wire, at least 194 journalists were targeted across the country and by state agencies, non-state political actors, and armed opposition groups in 2022

Activists and human rights advocates have expressed grave concerns over the immense crackdown on free speech in India, according to Wired. Atikur Rahman was with Siddique Kappan—who was on his way to report on the Hathras rape case, where a Dalit woman was allegedly gang-raped and killed by four upper-caste Thakur men—when Atikur was arrested, according to The Wire. Rahman accompanied Kappan to “show solidarity” with the family, according to Scroll.

Life and Activism

Prior to his arrest, Rahman was active in student activism in his university in Uttar Pradesh and took part in many protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act. He was also a member of the now-banned Campus Front of India, the student branch of the Popular Front of India.

According to Scroll, While in prison and with little access to healthcare, Atikur Rahman endured multiple health scares. Rahman had already been diagnosed with a chronic heart condition called aortic regurgitation prior to his arrest, according to The Quint. In September 2021, he collapsed in a police van on his way to a court hearing in Lucknow. The doctors had advised that he be transferred to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, but Rahman claims that he was taken back to Mathura jail and kept in a jail hospital. It was only after Allahabad high Court issued an order to force the jail authorities to shift him to AIIMS that Rahman was transferred 43 days after he fell ill. On November 27, 2021, he underwent a heart surgery. His health continued to deteriorate after the surgery and many activists spoke out on his behalf, urging for immediate medical attention and bail for Rahman. In August 2022, he endured a paralytic attack and was unconscious for a month.

Charges and Allegations

According to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, Rahman was charged with “promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc.” (Sec. 153A IPC), sedition (Sec. 124A IPC), conspiracy (Sec. 120B IPC), raising funds for terrorist acts (Sec. 17 UAPA), and conspiracy (Sec. 18 UAPA).

In February 2021, the Enforcement Directorate filed charges against Rahman and others, claiming that they were members of the Popular Front of India (PFI) and had been involved in protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), the February 2020 Northeast Delhi riots, and protests surrounding the death of the Dalit woman in Hathras.

Current Status

Granted bail

Last Update

On March 15, 2023, the Allahabad High Court granted Rahman bail in his UAPA case. He still remained in prison due to his other charges. On May 25, 2023, the High Court granted him bail in the alleged money laundering case. After 960 days in prison, Atikur Rahman was released in June 2023, according to The Wire.

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