Representatives from the CPI (ML), CPI, Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha, AICCTU, AITUC, All India Progressive Women’s Association, and All India Youth Federation met the Superintendent of Police, Durg, Chhattisgarh with regard to the arrest on sedition charges of a Kashmiri youth Tauseef Ahmad for liking, sharing, and forwarding Facebook posts on Kashmir. Tauseef had studied in Rungta College of Engineering, Bhilai and then gone on to do his MBA in Srinagar, after which he returned to Bhilai and had been working in the marketing section of Vivo (an electronics and mobile company) for the last few months. Recently he had liked and shared some posts and cartoons critical of India’s Kashmir policy on Facebook. On a complaint by Ratan Yadav, Bhilai coordinator of Bajrang Dal, the Chhattisgarh police registered a complaint against him on charges of sedition. On coming to know about the complaint Tauseef boarded a train to return to Kashmir but was apprehended and arrested at Sagar station, Madhya Pradesh. He was then remanded to 15 days judicial custody and is currently lodged in Durg Central Jail.
Com. Brijendra Tiwari of CPI(ML) and Com. Lakshmi Krishnan of AIPWA visited the father and cousin of Tauseef who have come down to Durg after the arrest of their son. His father, who was in a state of dazed bewilderment informed them that Tauseef had of late been in an emotional state and disturbed by the violence in Kashmir, due to which he had shared the post. He said that he had met his son in the jail and found him in a very depressed mood. The family of Tauseef is not well-off and their financial condition is not such that they can afford expensive legal aid. Like Tauseef, a large number of Kashmiri youngsters come to Chhattisgarh to study and work, and many of them told the activists that they had always felt safe in the State but this incident will deter Kashmiri youth from coming to Chhattisgarh.
On 8 August a delegation with representatives from various Left organizations met the Additional. Superintendent of Police, Durg, Vivek Shukla and conveyed to him that liking or sharing a post or a cartoon on social media does not constitute any legal ground for sedition charges. Citing the Mumbai High Court’s verdict in the Aseem Trivedi case, they pointed out that the court had dismissed the grounds for Aseem Trivedi’s arrest on sedition charges for a cartoon he himself had made as “arbitrary and frivolous” and said that the grounds against Tauseef are even more arbitrary and frivolous, since he shared a cartoon made by someone else. Cartoons are not seditious since they do not incite violence, they merely express satire. They demanded the sedition charges on Tauseef should be revoked and he should be released from jail without delay. They also expressed serious concern for his safety from violence inside jail and demanded that his safety be ensured. The delegation submitted a memorandum to the SP, Durg through the Addl. Superintendent with the above demands. The delegation also went to meet the Superintendent of Durg Central Jail but was told that they could meet him only at 10 AM on 9 August. The delegation has planned to meet him on 9 August and will also attempt to meet Tauseef. The memorandums were signed by Brijendra Tiwari (CPI (ML)), Ramesh Kumar Das (CPI), AG Qureshi (CMM), VK Soni (AITUC), Ashok Miri (AICCTU), Shamim Qureshi (AIYF), and Lakshmi Krishnan (AIPWA).