Hello! This is the Innocence Network tweeting today's event in this #thread 👇🏾

We are an all-India collective of individuals & orgs working on the issue of wrongful & malicious prosecution under charges of terrorism, facilitated by exonerees + civil liberties groups. 1/n
Sharib: Today marks 300 days of #UmarKhalid's arrest, 500 days of farmer's protest, Lingaraj Azad, Hidme Markam, a week since Stan Swamy was killed...so many Varavara Rao, Gautam, Surendra Gadling, Meeran Haider, Sharjeel...many many others, students from more than 30 unis...2/n
those who know mountains, rivers, forests are sacred and not the state...

we've become so used to the state's [oppression] that we see Devangana, Natasha, and Asif's bail as a breath of fresh air 3/n
We begin the event in earnest with the inauguration of the English translation of Abdul Wahid Sheikh's book, "Innocent Prisoner"(Begunah Qaidi) @BegunahQaidi book by Prof Veena Das with raised fists 4/n
@BegunahQaidi: "Sometimes I feel tired of speaking about my book, my experience, but I have a mission..for all those who are innocent, and I know they are innocent, to be released. So no matter how tired I am, I will keep raising this" 5/n
@BegunahQaidi: "I wrote this book in jail..and I wrote thinking whether we are alive or dead, in confinement or free, this truth, the tamasha in the name of terrorism, the way accused is tortured, the way evidence is fabricated..I wanted this truth to reach everyone" 5/n
@BegunahQaidi: "So I wrote I didn't know whether this will be read or reach anyone but I wrote with a mission in mind. A miracle happened in 2015 and I was acquitted and released..." 6/n
@BegunahQaidi: "This book is not my autobiography, it is not for me to get pity, this is the story of the kind of treatment that so many face in the name of "terrorism", that so many Muslims face in this country." 7/n
@BegunahQaidi "The hearing keeps being postponed for this case. They were boys, many just married, many with wives who were pregnant when they were arrested. Now their own kids have grown up and are ready to be married. They need to be released" 8/n
@BegunahQaidi "I recently spoke to a prisoner whose wife died recently. He pointed out that his beard has gone white. how long will it be before we are released? We were laughing but I knew his pain." 9/n
@BegunahQaidi "Counting in terms of days but think of 5425 days as the time when the accused have been under arrest. My book shows the illegalities - no judge is willing to give it priority - there cases are heard" 10/n
@BegunahQaidi: "I say it everywhere that till these accused are even freedom - if you target people on the basis of their religion, identity - there can be no peace. And I'm not the person telling you this is a disputed case. This case even within the police is most disputed"11/n
@BegunahQaidi: "but courts don't treat it as disputed. Severe punishments are given including death by hanging-I want to appeal that we need to do everything for this caseif we can write, protest, campaign-we must do whatever possible, it's our collective responsibility" 12/n
Part II: Manisha Sethi will speak on Anti-Terror Laws.

Manisha: "Congratulations Wahid Bhai for this important book that will be essential reading for generations to come. Let me start with this case..." 13/n
Manisha: "The crux of this judgment is these confessions--confessions that were brought about through torture. The lives of people like Wahid are the living illustration of the consequences of UAPA, MCOCA and other anti-terror laws..." 14/n
Manisha: "we are thinking about Stan Swamy as we should but few know that accused no. 1 in this case, Kamal Ansari, died recently in jail. He had COVID and we don't know what sort of healthcare he got, the family wasn't informed...very opaque as the prison system works." 15/n
Manisha: "We tend not to think of Wahid bhai or Kamal Ansari as a political prisoner. We think of political prisoners as dissenters who writes, protests, talks...but many of the people who have been arrested supposedly linked with SIMI and we will come to that too..." 16/n
Manisha: "But a large proportion of people here were not linked with any political party. They were targeted because of their religion, age...put simply for being Muslims. We don't see them as political prisoners but the UAPA and anti-terror laws are inherently political..." 17/n
...earlier years it was Sikhs...so of course we need to see them as political prisoners. Talking about anti-terror laws, like Wahid bhai, I too am a little jaded because we have been talking about this for years. When we started working on this case too many liberals were.."18/n
"skeptical and said well, perhaps there are links to terror etc....

What makes these anti-terror laws like UAPA a problem? Is it the law as it is written or the implementation of the law that is failing? It is the very structure of the law that is a problem." 19/n
Manisha [paraphrase]: there's a long colonial legacy of these laws--But particularly during the 60s, we had skirmishes with China, the Emergency led to several legal [constraints] on democratic rights--These two internal emergencies to the bringing in of law like UAPA. 20/n
Manisha: "In UAPA, the definition of "unlawful" is so vague. Anything innocuous could be deemed unlawful. Books, songs, meetings of any kind could be said to be unlawful associations and that is what happens.

This is one stream--but UAPA was never meant to be a terror law" 21/n
Manisha: "then came TADA & POTA. These laws led to people spending years in jail without any trial. The conviction rate was abysmally low. Media reporting was no better. This created the [myth] that "enemies of the state were out there" and these laws were needed.." 22/n
Manisha: "I want to end by making the point that these laws and their extremely vague definitions has made it impossible for it to retain any idea of fair trial or justice or rule of law.

Anti-terror laws allow the marking out of the enemies of the state..."23/n
Manisha: "through these bans, through labeling people as "terrorists"--the enemies of the state are both, political groups who are engaged in some work, but can also be socioregional groups, like Muslims today & the figure of the anti-CAA protesters" 24/n
Manisha: "bring these two figures together. Umar Khalid, Safoora, Gulfisha..these bring booth these categories together and are enemies of the state par excellence." 25/n

Veena: "One of the most important points about Wahid bhai's book is not as testimony but makes pedagogical points asking what the state is, what democracy is, what torture does." 26/n
Veena: "Sheikh's book discusses these police procedures that not only target the individual who they are able to pin as "suspect" or "accused" but torture really fractures entire communities. I think it is very important to recognise." 27/n
Veena: "It is not some vague results of modernity...that is fracturing communities. I think it is very fact that the state proceeds in certain kinds of ways. In wahid's case itself there was this constant calling of his brother..we are going to bring parents/wife in etc.." 28/n
Veena: "This is very very common and came up a lot in my fieldwork..the police puts pressure. A woman told me her son was taken away and finally released but they said that they were terrified that he won't be able to withstand the torture..." 29/n
Veena: "And so this would lead him to give a name and the name he would know will be innocent...and this too ruptures communities....I saw this in '84 too, this fear in families that their brothers, cousins have given information." 30/n
Veena: "Secondly, the definition of "terror" claims that this is an attack on the state, of sovereignty. And courts have said that gang wars don't count. But because people want to claim this is a 'conspiracy', so many people are arrested." 31/n
Veena: "We saw this under TADA, in bombay blasts case...even if they are acquitted and released, the time that they have spent in custody, the treatment that they face erases the differences between those "accused" and those not..." 32/n
Veena: "And the experience itself leads to the police themselves documenting and having a record of people. This leads to people again and again being hounded and creates fear that if not now, later too there may be a case against me." 33/n
Veena: "We even have seen cases where the state claims that they know someone is innocent but they need to look further in "minute detail". One never knows whether this is a threat of torture--Things like reporting to the police daily are not minor and need to be considered"34/n
Veena: "When it comes to torture, why is it that liberal scholars, such as Dershowitz or Walzer, justify torture? They claim that the threat itself of terror is so large that torture is justified. Except there is no justification of torture..." 35/n
Veena: "I also believe that we need to talk about torture in every home, in every community. Finally, the judicial meaning of torture in India is that which is committed by a public servant but we need to widen our definition of torture. Torture is not justified..." 36/n
"against innocent people but also those who have committed harm. But torture is not only committed by the state, other forms of torture too include violence against women.." 37/n
PART IV: Usha Ramanathan

Usha: "There is so much we need to think about and talk about when it comes to this but it is not happening enough...we tend to be in a reactive mode..." 38/n
Usha: "What we learn from Wahid bhai's case and other cases is institutional bias--in the Bhima Koregaon case-time and time again we hear from people with international reputations that how can you find *them* to be criminals? They are the ones who are fighting for others." 39/n
Usha: "Fr. Stan's death compels us to think about institutional bias that is common across the country--We cannot even call what is happening now law. These are atrocities happening by the state" 40/n
Usha: "We saw this in '84. We saw police being complicit- More people need to know about the Hashimpura massacre-we saw it in 2002 in Gujarat. These institutional prejudices need to be driven out." 41/n
Usha: "We need an agenda to restore liberty from every area. Liberty is just slipping away. UAPA is staring us in the face. Like TADA was before. Like AFSPA was. UAPA is like the waste paper basket of all of these laws. When AFSPA had to go, TADA had to go, POTA had to go..."42/n
Usha: "all of it was bundled into the UAPA. And another we need to study more is the financial action task force. First it was drug money, then terrorism, anything considered "illegal activity" in relation to the economy..." 43/n
Usha: "When Manisha says that the definition is vague..it's because it really has to take in anything that the state wants to put its hands on and use against people...

we also need to hold int'l actors involved in things like the financial action task force accountable.." 44/n
Usha: "Setting an agenda of things that need to go so whatever the political party comes on if another needs to make this an explicit agenda: One of the tragedies of independence is the maintenance of preventive detention. 'Special and local laws' make use of this" 45/n
Usha: "Another is sedition. Sedition claims that the citizen cannot be disaffectionate towards the state. In fact, it should be the other way around where the state is the one that has to be accountable to citizens... 46/n
Usha: "Sedition worked perfectly for a colonial enterprise 'I'm not going to allow your disaffection or questioning of my power' but it has no place in a democratic and free country." 47/n
Usha: "New laws have come in where we haven't noticed is eroding prevention of money laundering act. very repressive. shift the onus onto accused. "this property came through money laundering, prove that didn't happen" so you can just charge and accused people..." 48/n
Usha: "Under PMLA too you pick them up and put in prison. It's bringing in a new class of prisoners. Suddenly you have businessmen "key to the eceonomy"–most other acts have people who aren't even considered important to the economy–this is very differrent and.." 49/n
Usha: "shows us the parts of the economy that the state wants to control...India got into this because UN also claimed money laundering is about terrorism. India in the international arena claims that it is a champion against terror..." 50/n
Usha discusses the targeting of Adivasi communities based on the claims of development [sorry: will return to this tweet] 51/n
Usha: "We are seeing an insecure state worried that someone is against me, someone is after me..in Chattisgarh for example, you see judges saying 'this is a Naxal case' when that is not something in the law. We are seeing this in UAPA where it is seen as a 'terror' case..." 52/n
Usha: "These special courts who think about it as a 'terror' case brings in prejudice. And these cases can just be in ordinary law and I don't think they even should be crimes.

"Crimes by association" are like a 'thought crime'. You read something, you spoke to someone..." 53/n
Usha: "Historically, there were lawyers like Kannabiran, Haragopal, who could go and talk to people, negotiate etc. Today, just knowing someone, talking to someone, reaching out is criminalised. These crimes of acquaintance need to go." 54/n
Usha: "Another type of crimes are "crimes of labeling" where certain communities--where Muslims--are targeted. And there is impunity. The tragedy for those who are affected by institutional bias, for many of the Muslims who are innocent..." 55/n
Usha: "you can have judgments like Akshardham case where SC says police has fabricated the case..there is no consequence and the court itself doesn't consider the impact of police in future cases..." 56/n
Usha: "We have new detention centers being built in this country and there is no outcry! We have a new definition of citizenship in this country. It's not only that all those non-Muslim can come into the country [following a long lineage of limits on citizenship]..." 57/n
Usha: "This is not about "illegal immigrants" it is about your own citizens. People are going to be put into these detention centres and the full horror of that is only dawning on us now...

The only thing that will get us through is solidarity against the state as it stands"58/n
Usha: "I want to emphasize: We don't have an anti-torture law. The bill has come in front of the parliament multiple times. [There is no will to enact]. Everyone knows there is torture happening & is concerned about it coming to their community..." 59/n
END: Thank you to our speakers, to those who attended the event, to those who have engaged with the tweets. @/detsolnet will release further details about this conversation and share our work. This is Innocence Network signing off. 60/60
Some critical points made by the speakers yesterday:

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More from @detsolnet

10 Jul
The Innocence Network will takeover this handle from 7-9pm tomorrow IST to live tweet this event! #IndiasWarOfTerror

Alt text & details in #thread 1/n
Image is an event poster with a white background. Top left corner has a logo, a red circle with four vertical white lines and one white line slashing through it, with “innocence network” underneath. Top right has a red semi-circle and (2/n)
text wrapped around the bottom that reads: “Innocence Network’s Deliberation on Civil Liberties”. The title in caps reads: “Second Annual Conference” in blue & “India’s War of Terror” in red. (3/n)
Read 10 tweets
18 Jun
In 2012, 29-year-old Mohammed Ilyas was arrested in Nanded on the claim that he was part an LeT conspiracy. At the time, his youngest child was just over two weeks old. After his arrest, his fruit shop was forced shut with the landlord asking them to vacate the premises...1/9
Along with him, 24-year-old Mohammed Irfan, the owner of an inverter battery shop was also arrested on the same charges. After 7 years in jail, Bombay HC granted him bail, and just when he was rebuilding his life, the SC ordered a stay on the order and he was back in jail...2/9
then, Irfan had not even been given the opportunity to respond to the NIA's assertion that “there is likelihood of recurrence of commission of offence which might affect the security of the nation”. 3/9
Read 8 tweets
18 Jun
Siddique Kappan, Atiqur Rahman, Masood Ahmed and Alam were arrested en-route to reporting on a case of rape & murder of a Dalit woman in Hathras.

On June 15th, a Mathura court dropped bailable charges against them...1/n
S.151, 107, 116 of CrPC were dropped because the police failed to complete enquiry within the prescribed period of 6 months. Non-Bailable charges such UAPA and sedition have not been dropped and mean they will continue to be detained. 2/n
Earlier this year, Kappan's wife wrote to the chief justice about his mistreatment in hospital after he tested positive for COVID-19 in detention which eventually led to SC order for him to get treatment in Delhi.. 3/n
Read 4 tweets
7 Sep 20
Thread on Integrated Criminal Justice System (ICJS), a new information infrastructure being build by Ministry of Home Affairs. According to a press release by MHA, home secretary stated "along with CCTNS, ICJS will offer a 360 degree profile of anyone". mha.gov.in/sites/default/…
ICJS is a phase 2 extension of Crime and Criminal Tracking Networks and Systems (CCTNS). While CCTNS links all police stations to share information on crime, ICJS inter-links CCTNS with e-courts, e-prisons and e-forensics systems in India. Essentially centralizing information.
The ICJS system creates a dashboard with criminal profiles of anyone in the criminal justice system. Each organization in this system has only access to specific information with MHA having access to 360 degree profile of everyone using a UID
Read 16 tweets
27 Aug 20

27–28 Aug 2018
Aasif Sultan arrested after a raid at his residence that lasted for almost 2 hours, between 11:15 pm to 1:27 am

31 Aug 2018
J&K Police issued a press release, misrepresenting the date of his arrest being 4 days later than the actual date
08 Sep 2018
Aasif Sultan sent to Srinagar Central Jail, Jammu and Kashmir

03 Oct 2018
According to a statement filed before a judge in Srinagar, the state accused Sultan of being in touch with a militant group and promoting it on social media
13 Nov 2018
The journalist's bail is rejected by the lower court

06 Feb 2019
J&K Police files a chargesheet against Sultan, accusing him of hatching a criminal conspiracy, “harbouring militants, and giving support to a proscribed militant organisation”
Read 8 tweets
9 Jul 20
⚡️Here’s a master thread ⚡️of a ten day curation on #AntiTerrorLaws & #UAPA led by @GuneetKaurAhuja & @aimanjkhan who brought to fore critical inputs from Sahana Manjesh, Parijata @mrinpinshar, @SarimNaved & @meeracomposes: 1/
Day 1: on the colonial legacy of the legal concept of “unlawful association” which underpins contemporary anti-terror laws in India: 2/
Day 2: on the development of anti-terror legislation in independent india of the 60s, the introduction of the Terrorist & Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1985 (TADA) and the 2002 Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) 3/
Read 15 tweets

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