‘Curbing the dissent’ : Activists demand release of Dr. Kafeel Khan

From social media sites to activists on ground, there have been demands for releasing Kafeel Khan.

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Activists from all across India are demanding the release of Dr. Kafeel Khan who was arrested in January from Mumbai for his alleged provocative speech on the Citizenship (Amendment) Act or CAA at a talk at the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU). However, after getting bail in the case on 10 February, he was re-arrested on 13 February and was charged with offenses under the National Security Act even before his release. Since January he is in Jail, and now many activists are demanding his release.

‘Demanding justice’

Rahul Kapoor, a social activist and a P.h.D Scholar in Jamia Millia Islamia, is concerned about Dr. Kafeel Khan’s arrest. Criticising the government over the issue, Rahul said, “The arrest of Dr. Kafeel Khan and slapping of NSA on him is a living example of the way in which the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh is murdering democracy and moving towards authoritarianism. Dr. Kafeel Khan is a doctor who has rendered invaluable human service to the people even in the face of adversity whether it was arranging oxygen cylinders for children in the BRD medical hospital or conducting innumerable health camps for poor and needy people across the country.”

Rahul said that he strongly demands the release of Kafeel Khan and requests people to raise their voices for the same.

” It is a shame that a doctor with such an exemplary record of humanitarian service is in jail today. The judiciary should also set an example by not only giving bail to Dr. Kafeel Khan but also reprimanding the UP government for wrongfully charging Dr. Kafeel Khan with NSA. I strongly demand justice for Dr. Kafeel Khan,” Rahul added.

It can be mentioned here that the National Security Act (NSA) under which Dr. Kafeel was re-arrested, allows both central and state government to detain a person to prevent the one from engaging or acting in any circumstance that is undermining the security of India.

‘Curbing dissenting voices’

With the arrest of Dr. Kafeel Khan, many are now criticising the government. Akhtarista Ansari, an AISA (All India Students Association ) activist, alleges that the government is taking opportunity out of the crisis in ‘curbing down the dissent voices’.

“The Uttar Pradesh government is taking revenge against him because he was very vocal about the CAA-NRC protest. He is not just a doctor, he was actively vocal against the atrocities of BJP and RSS regime in the medical sector. They are using the lockdown as an opportunity to curb down the dissenting voices,” Akhtarista said.

Terming Dr. Khan as ‘People’s doctor’, she further mentioned that Kafeel khan had been engaged in free health services in several states, including Bihar.

Amina Shervani, a Delhi-based social activist feels that criticising the Prime Minister, Home Minister, or even government officials, does not make one ‘anti-national’. Shervani further said that Dr. Kafeel Khan’s arrest was unjust and unfair.

” We are Indians, we are allowed to make any comments we feel like on our Prime Minister and Home Minister. Our constitution has permitted to do that. The thing we are not allowed to do is the use of abusive and unparliamentary language,” said Amina Shervani.

‘Deserves respect’

Hasina Ahmed, an Assam-based social activist who was a part of anti-CAA protest all across the country, feels that a doctor like Kafeel Khan deserves to be respected. Hasina further demanded the release of Dr. Kafeel Khan, adding that he has a lot of contribution to society as a doctor.

” Dr. Kafeel is not only a doctor, but he is also a social activist. He treated many patients for free. The government shower flower petals with helicopters to convey respect for the doctors, he too deserves to be respected. Because he has a lot of contribution to society. There is no meaning of keeping him in Jail,” Hasina said.

However, it is important to note that the Aligarh administration reportedly slapped NSA on Kafeel Khan citing that it has confidential information from intelligence units and police about Khan might cause a law and order situation.

From the last several weeks, there have been demands for releasing Dr. Khan. Moreover, campaigns demanding the doctor’s release have made it to social media sites with scores of debates and discussions.

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