The May Day Student Organization expresses solidarity with the revolutionary youth movement in India and their leaders who have been harassed and illegally detained by Delhi police on trumped-up grounds. We demand their immediate release and that all plans to charge them be dropped!
Beginning on April 16, 2020, several activists—including Yogesh Swami, the National Vice President of revolutionary youth organization Naujawan Bharat Sabha (NBS), as well as prominent NBS leaders Vishaal and Rakesh—have been abducted by Delhi police and forcibly taken into custody without explanation, notice, or warrant. This is a blatant campaign of persecution against all who oppose the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC). It represents an undemocratic attempt to suppress political opposition by the fascists of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
On March 25, 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi imposed an ill-planned lockdown on the country of India in response to the coronavirus pandemic. NBS activists have been tirelessly providing relief to the community, setting up kitchens, distributing food, and helping those in need. Operating under orders from the Ministry of Home Affairs, led by the well-known fascist Amit Shah, the Delhi police have taken this opportunity to systematically target youth and student activists who were involved in organizing the massive popular protests against the anti-Muslim Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) earlier this year. The CAA, which blocks Muslim refugees from applying for Indian citizenship, is expected to render nearly two million Indians stateless. The NRC requires every person in India to provide documentary evidence of their right to live in India and will provide the state with unprecedented power to detain citizens.
On April 16, 2020, the National Vice President of NBS, Yogesh Swami, was kidnapped in Delhi by a gang of police while distributing food and supplies to those in the city who are suffering heavily under the state-imposed lockdown. Without identifying themselves or presenting an arrest warrant, the police forced Yogesh into a car and took him away without telling his comrades where they were taking him or when they could expect to see him again. Yogesh was released after many hours, but later summoned again for “interrogation” by the Delhi police, along with Vishaal and Rakesh, also active members of the NBS. In what is obviously retaliation for the protests against CAA/NCR, these activists are being interrogated, threatened, and detained under completely unfounded and outrageous allegations of murder and attempted murder in connection with the recent communal riots in Delhi, in which 53 people lost their lives.
The police are accusing the activists of inciting this violence, which was in fact a government-sanctioned anti-Muslim pogrom that sought to direct attention away from the mass protests against the unpopular citizenship laws. The riots were orchestrated by leading members of the BJP in order to divide the people and weaken the mass movement, which had organized effectively to resist these measures. Leaders of the BJP and its supporting organizations can be seen on video making speeches and inflammatory statements instigating crowds to carry out violence, often in the presence of Delhi police officers. In response to these statements, armed mobs of the fascist Hindutva paramilitary organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) descended upon Muslim neighborhoods in Delhi, beating, publicly humiliating, and murdering their residents. It is common knowledge that the police and government officials sanctioned and even actively encouraged this brutal communal violence, and yet the instigators remain free. The police themselves beat a 23-year-old man to death—on video. The NBS activists who have been interrogated and detained had absolutely nothing to do with the riots. They are being punished for their political dissidence and opposition to the fascist policies of the Indian state.
The NBS is being singled out by Delhi police because they have been effectively mobilizing both the Muslim and Hindu masses in Delhi against the CAA/NRC. The fascists—who thrive on mutual suspicion and hatred between different sections of the working class—fear the unity of the people above all else. The state wants to destroy this movement because it is foiling its attempts to divide the people through anti-democratic and communal policies like the CAA/NRC. Today the state is using the coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity to break up the mass movement by rounding up its leadership. Those in power want to imprison the organizers so that once the lockdown ends and new dates are set for the National Population Register, the movement will be incapacitated, and the state can act without interference. This is nothing more than an arbitrary witch-hunt against NBS activists who had nothing to do with the Delhi riots, while the actual perpetrators not only walk free, but hold positions in the government! These arrests constitute a campaign of persecution against all who oppose CAA/NRC—a blatant attempt to suppress political opposition.
Repression, however, gives rise to resistance, and we cannot allow these actions of fascists and enemies of the people to go unnoticed. The May Day Student Organization calls on all progressive organizations to spread this message far and wide—join us in condemning these politically motivated and illegal arrests and demanding the removal of the false charges against Yogesh, Vishaal, Rakesh, and their fellow youth leaders in Delhi, and across India!
Read our previous solidarity statements: