We, the undersigned, condemn the manner in which the Delhi Police has mentioned the name of Harsh Mander and other activists, to concoct a ‘chronology’ and create a false narrative about the Delhi riots, in the chargesheet filed by them on FIR No.- 65/2020 of 26/02/2020. 

Harsh Mander is a well known Human Rights Defender, a writer and a social activist. Harsh Mander was a civil servant who resigned from his job in the wake of Gujarat violence in 2002 and came forward to work tirelessly to build bridges of love in our society. He went on to start initiatives for the under-privileged, and religious minorities among others. He founded Aman Biradari and Karavan-E-Mohabbat. Both initiatives have contributed immensely to the betterment of Indian society. His current efforts to help the migrant workers, who had to tragically flee our cities in the wake of Corona lockdown, are commendable. 

In the wake of the Delhi violence ( Feb. 2020), Harsh Mander had filed a petition before the Honorable Supreme Court, related to registering of FIRs against political leaders whose inflammatory speeches triggered the violence resulting in over 50 deaths. Instead of allowing the court to consider the petition, the Solicitor General of India derailed it, and gave a twist to the episode by arguing that Mr. Mander had in fact been contemptuous of the Honorable Supreme Court, and incited violence in a speech he gave at the Jamia Millia Islamia University on December 16th 2020. That speech, given publically, and video recorded, in fact spoke of love and constitutional rights.

The chargesheet now filed by the police continues this false narrative. Under the head – Brief Facts of the Case – Chronology Of Events Leading To Riots In North-East, Delhi (Point 17. Para 4) it says : ”Mr. Harsh Mander, who visited the site on 16/12/19 and instigated the protestors to not have faith in the Supreme Court and to fight their battle on road to get justice. He, however, used a façade of peace in a part of his speech”. 

 There cannot be anything more ridiculous than saying Harsh Mander used a “façade of peace.” He has devoted his entire life to the cause of peace and harmony in society. 

 The core part of his speech called for shunning violence and adopting Gandhian means of non violence in the agitation.

This is what he had said:

 “What will be the future of this country – you all are the youth – what sort of country do you want to leave for your kids – where will this decision happen? One, it will happen on the streets, we have come out on the streets, but even beyond the streets, there is another place where this decision will take place. Which is the place in which this fight will eventually be decided? That is in our hearts, in my heart, in your heart, we have to give a response – if they want to fill our hearts with hate, if we respond with hate, hatred will become deeper”.

 “If someone is attempting to bring darkness to the country, and we also do the same in order to fight, then the darkness will only become more severe. If there is darkness, then the only way that can be fought is by lighting a lamp. And if there is a huge storm, we will light a lamp against the darkness. The only answer we have to their hate is love. They will resort to violence, they will instigate us to indulge in violence but we will never carry out any violence. You must understand that it is their plan to instigate you towards violence so that when we commit 2% violence, they respond with 100%. We have learnt from Gandhi ji how to respond to violence and injustice. We will fight with non-violence. Anyone who instigates you toward violence or hatred, they are not your friends.”

 Surely this speech can go down in history as an elaboration of Gandhian principles in  contemporary times. To use this speech to present Harsh Mander as someone instigating violence is  utterly deplorable. It is a deliberate and motivated attempt to implicate an outstanding peace loving , Gandhi follower, an activist par excellence ,who is walking the path of non violence. This is an attempt to target him, perhaps pull him into the police dragnet of false cases, and silence powerful and effective citizen’s voices against hate, divisiveness and for unity and compassion.

We strongly condemn the motivated, compromised investigation and vilification of a person with commitment to a just society, and demand that this is stopped forthwith.

Endorsed by:

Abha Bhaiya, OBR India coordinator

Abhijit Sen , Former Member of Planning Commission of India

Abuzar Choudhary, Social Activist

Achin Vanaik, Retd. Professor of International Relation, DU

Aditya Mukherjee, historian, JNU

Admiral L Ramdas

Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat 

Air Vice Marshal (retd) Kapil Kak

Ajaya Kumar Singh, Bhubaneswar

Anand Chakravarti, Academician, Delhi

Anand Grover, Advocate

Anand majgavkar, social activist, Gujarat

Anjali Hegde, IT professional, Delhi

Annie Raja, National Secretary, NFIW

Anu Chenoy, Professor JNU

Aparna Sen, filmmaker, actress, Kolkata

Apoorvanand , academician, writer, Delhi

Aruna Roy, MKSS, Rajasthan

Arundhati Dhuru, NAPM

Asha Mishra, social activist

Ashok Choudhary, AIUFWP

Ashok Kumar Pandey, poet, writer, Delhi

Asok Barman, former President of AIFUCTO.

Atul Sood, Economist, Professor JNU, Delhi

B. Rajendra Prasad, Hyderabad

Badri Raina, author, Delhi

Balvir Arora, former Rector of JNU and Prof of Political Science

Biraj Patnaik, Amnesty Internayional’s South Aisa, Director

Brinda Karat, Polit Bureau Member, CPM

Brinelle D’souza, Academic and Activist, Mumbai

Chaman Lal Retd. Professor, JNU and author

Chayanika Shah, Queer Feminist, Mumbai

Deepak Kabir , social-cultural activist ,Lucknow 

Dev Desai, social activist, Gujarat

Dhirendra Panda, Convener, Civil Society Forum on Human Rights, Bhubaneswar

Dipa Sinha, social activist, Delhi, 

Dr Harshvardhan Hedge, orthopedic surgeon, Delhi

Dr Syeda Hameed, former member, Planning Commission, writer, Delhi

Dr. R. Mahalakshmi, Professor, Centre for Historical Studies, JNU

Dr. V.Krishna Ananth, Historian and Journalist

Dr.Hafiz Ahmed, Guwahati , Assam

Faisal Khan, Khudai Khidmatgar

Farah Naqvi, writer & activist, Delhi. 

Fr Cedric Prakash, Human Rights Activist, Gujarat

Francis Parmar, Anand, Gujarat

G. N. Devy, People’s Linguistic Survey of India

Gauhar Raza, retired scientist, filmmaker, poet, Delhi

Geeta Kapur, art historian and critic, Delhi

Geeta Seshu, Co-editor, Free Speech Collective

George Mathew, social scientist, Delhi

Githa Hariharan, writer, New Delhi

Gloria Burrett, Psychotherapist 

Gulammohammed Sheikh, artist, Vadodara

Hasina khan , activist and researcher, Mumbai

Himanshu, social activist, Delhi

Inamul Hasan , Khudai Khidmtgar 

Indira jaising, Lawyers Collective, Delhi

Indu Prakash Singh, President, Forum against Corruption & Threats (FACT)

Ira Bhaskar, professor, JNU

Irfan Engineer, social activist, CSSS, Mumbai

Jagmati Sangwan, Bheem Awardy, sportswoman, Social Activist, Rohtak

Janaki Nair, Retd Professor, JNU 

Javed Anis, Bhopal, Social activist & freelance journalist

Jayati Ghosh, economist, Prof JNU

Jean Dreze, economist,

Jignesh Mevani, Gujarat

Joe Athialy, social activist, Delhi

John Dayal, journalist, Delhi

K. M. Shrimali, former Professor of History, University of Delhi 

K. Satchidanandan, poet, Kerala

Kalpana Kannabiran, Council for Social Development, Hyderabad

Kamal Chenoy, academician, professor JNU

Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Human rights activist, Mumbai

Kamla Bhasin, feminist activist, Delhi

Kannan Gopinathan, former civil servant, social activist

Kavita Srivastava, PUCL, Jaipur

Kedar Misra, writer, journalist, Bhubaneswar

Kiran Shaheen, social activist, Delhi

KP Sasi , filmmaker, Kerala

Kripal Singh Mandloi , Khudai Khidmtgar 

Kumkum Roy, historian, Delhi

Lalita Ramdas

Lara Jesani, Advocate, Mumbai

Lata Singh, JNU

Laxmi Murthy, Co-Editor, Free Speech Collective

Leena Dabiru, social activist, Delhi

LS Hardenia, writer, journalist, Bhopal

Madan Gopal Singh, academician, musician, Delhi

Madhuresh Kumar, NAPM 

Mahesh Pandya, Gujarat Social Watch

Mallika Sarabhai, dancer, artist, Ahmedabad

Manisha Sethi, Associate Professor, NALSAR

Manjula Pradeep, Human Rights defender, Gujarat

Manoranjan Mohanty, Retired Professor of Political Science, University of Delhi

Mansi Shah, Gujarat

Mansi Sharma, social activist, Delhi

Martin Macwan, social activist, Gujarat

Medha Patkar, Narmada Bachao Andolan

Meha Khanduri, Human Rights Activist

Mohd Azam, businessman, Hyderabad

Mridula Mukherjee, historian, Delhi

Nandini Sundar, professor DU

Nandita Das, actor, filmmaker, Mumbai

Nandita Narain, professor DU

Naseeruddin Shah, actor, Mumbai

Navjot, artist, Mumbai

Nayantara Sahgal, writer, Dehradun

Neeladri Bhattacharya, historian

Neera Burra, Sociologist

Neera Chandhoke, former professor of political science, Delhi University.

Nikhil Dey, MKSS, Rajasthan

Nilima Sheikh, artist, Vadodara

Nivedita Menon, feminist writer and a professor of political thought at JNU

Pamela Philipose, journalist, Delhi

Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, journalist

Prabir Purkayastha, editor of

Pradip Krishen – Writer, New Delhi

Prafulla Samantara, environmental activist, Bhubaneswar

Pramod Yadava, former President of JNUTA

Pravinsinh Jadeja, JDU, Gujarat

Prof Irfan Habib, historiam, Aligarh

Prof. Ankur Sarin, IIM Ahmedabad

Prof. Arun Kumar, economist, retired professor, JNU

Prof. Hemant Shah, economist, Gujarat

Prof. Monirul Hussain, Assam

Prof. Navdeep Mathur, IIM, Ahmedabad

Prof. Prabhat Patnaik, JNU

Prof. Raghavan Rangarajan , Ahmedabad

Prof. Rohit Shukla, academician and economist, Gujarat

Prof. Shah Alam Khan, Professor, AIIMS, New Delhi

Prof. Shireen Moosvi, Aligarh

Prof. Utsa Patnaik, JNU

Prof. Zoya Hasan, former Dean of the School of Social Sciences (SSS), JNU

Rajmohan Gandhi, academician, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi

Rakhi Sehgal, New Delhi

Ram Puniyani, writer, social activist, Mumbai

Ramachandra Guha, historian

Ratna Pathak Shah, Actress, Mumbai

Rohit Prajapati, social activist, Vadodara

Romila Thapar, Historian, Professor Emeritus, JNU, New Delhi.

Ruchira Gupta, journalist, activist

Sadanand Menon – arts editor, teacher of cultural journalism, Chennai

Sadhna Arya, DU, Delhi

Sahba Farooqui, social activist, Delhi

Saheli, women organisation

Sandeep Pandey, Socialist Party (India)

Seema Kurup, Bhopal

Shabana Azmi, Actress, Mumbai

Shabnam Hashmi, social activist, Delhi

Shankar Singh, MKSS, Rajasthan

Shanta Gokhale, writer, theatre critic

Shantha Sinha, Former Chairperson NCPCR

Sohail Hashmi, Writer Film maker, Delhi

Sucheta Mahajan, Professor, Centre for Historical Studies, JNU

Sukumar Muralidharan, journalist, Gurgaon

Sundar Burra (retired civil servant)

Surajit Mazumdar, professor, JNU

Sushant Singh, actor, Mumbai

Uma Chakravarti, feminist historian , writer, Delhi

Upasana Behar, social activist, Bhopal  

Urmimala Sarkar, Prof JNU       

Uttam Parmar, Kim, Gujarat

Vibhuti Patel, former Head of Department of Economics at SNDT Women’s Univ

Vidya Bhushan Rawat, social activist, Delhi

Vikas Narain Rai, Retd. IPS Officer

Vivan Sundaram, contemporary artist, Delhi

Wilfred Dcosta, Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF), New Delhi

Yogendra Yadav, Swaraj India

Yogesh Diwan, social activist, Bhopal