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India initiates prosecution of academicians Arundhati Roy and Sheikh Showkat Hussain

On June 14, Lieutenant governor of Delhi, Vinai Kumar Saxena, sanctioned the prosecution of author-activist Arundhati Roy and Sheikh Showkat Hussain, a former professor at the Central University of Kashmir, under Section 45 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in connection with a 2010 first information report (FIR). 

Roy and Hussain are accused of “delivering provocative speeches in public” and supporting Kashmir’s right to self-determination at a conference organized under the banner of “Azadi – The Only Way” in October 2010 at Delhi. 

Showkat was first expelled as principal of Kashmir Law College at the Central University of Kashmir in 2022 due to his political views and closeness with deceased Kashmiri pro-freedom leader, Syed Ali Geelani. The postgraduate diploma in human rights course that he had established in the college was also banned by the state. 

On 21st June, around 200 academics, activists and journalists urged the withdrawal of the sanction against Roy and Hussain, calling it an attack on freedom of expression.

The Unlawful Activities Prevention Act is in place to “prevent terror-related activities, unlawful associations, and activities that may endanger the sovereignty and integrity of India.” It allows the government to jail an individual for six months, without a trial or bail, stonewalling any judicial intervention. Since its inception, however, it has largely been used to suppress those who express criticism against India’s occupation of Kashmir.

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