Protest outside Maharashtra Sadan, New Delhi on August 26th, 2013
In a press conference held earlier today (26th August) at the students union office in JNU, the teachers, students and an large number of student as well as cultural organizations of JNU along with the JNUSU, strongly condemned the arrest and profiling of Hem Mishra, who till very recently was a student in the Center for Chinese and South East Asian studies in SLL&CS, JNU. Hem is a known student and cultural activist who was arbitrarily arrested by the Maharashtra police, who is now showcasing him as a ‘prominent Naxal Courier’ to the media. He is a known mass activist. He is physically challenged and he has undergone two major operations in his left hand in the recent past.
JNUSU General Secretary Shakeel Anjum said ‘On ebehalf of JNUSU, we condemn the fictitious and surreptitious arrest of Hem. He was here last week, before he left for treatment. This is clearly an act of state terror’.
Prof. K.J. Mukherji from School of Bio Technologysaid, “It is not just the case that he is our student, we are concerned how the police picks up people. The state has a way of labelling people and branding someone as a Naxalite, and then it seems as if his civil rights do not exist after that. We have high profile cases – like that of Binayak Sen. Even Soni Sori’s case is an example. Anyone cannot be arrested for his beliefs, as Surpreme Court has said. The police use the JNU label to say brand people in a certain way, since people here speak about progressive and revolutionary transformation of the society. We as teacher stand in solidarity with our student” Prof. D.K. Lobiyal also reiterated that this is a way of defaming JNU. He considered Hem’s arrest as a clear instance of state terrorism and expressed his solidarity for his release.Prof. Alone recounted how similarly the Maharashtra state has repeatedly arrested dalit activists protesting against the Khairlanji massacre whose cases are still pending. Mausumi Basu expressed deep concern about the safety of the persons arrested. “Just saying that he is in police custody is not enough. We know what all happens in the police custody. It is very very important that we should know when he was picked up.”
Hem’s brother Deepak was also present and stated that he got to know of his arrest yesterday from media reports. His family members were concerned as they had been trying to call him for the last three days. “He had come here to study, These are baseless charges. I had met his friends who also told me that they also could not get through him for the past 3 days.”
Student organization representatives ranging from AISA, SFI, AISF, Students Islamic Organization, Naga Study Forum, United Dalit Students Forum, Untouchable India, Krantikari Nawjawan Sabha – all unequivocally condemned the arrest of Hem. Several cultural organizations like RCF, Bahroop and IPTA, JSM also condemned the incarceration of Hem. They said, “It shows how the fascist forces are scared of people who speak of justice. Hem Mishra is one of us, he does what we also do – to make people aware through the medium of culture. If we raise our voice, the government is afraid of it. It is a shameful act. This is what has happened to Kabir Kala Manch activists, Jeetan Marandi and others too”. Noted poet Ranjit Verma was also present in the press conference and condemned the arrest.
The Students then were about to go to Maharashtra Sadan to protest. But shamefully the Delhi Police confiscated the bus and tried to stop people from going. But despite that students reached the venue and did a vibrant protest. In the demo too, everyone condemned this illegal and unjust arrest of Hem. A memorandum was submitted to the Resident’s Commissioner.
We are yet to know for sure from where and when was Hem picked up. We suspect that he might have been tortured or intimidated by various other coercive means by the police. We demand that Hem must be allowed to meet his lawyer as soon as possible. We appeal to democratic and progressive sections of the country and the media to raise their voice against this continued witch hunt of mass activists and stand by Hem. We demand his unconditional release.