May 3, 2012 New Delhi: Several activists, lawyers and academicians, in a statement have condemned the arrest of Advocate Shahnawas on Monday by the Kerala Police in Trivandrum.


Here is the statement:    


The undersigned condemn in strongest terms the arrest of Advocate Shahnawas, a leading human rights activist of Kerala. Advocate Shahnawas, who lives and practices in Trivandrum, was arrested on 1st May 2012, and his office raided and his files seized by the Crime Branch of the state. Ostensibly, his arrest has been made by the “Hi-tech Cell” of the Kerala Crime Branch for conspiring to leak intelligence communication in the infamous Email surveillance scandal that rocked the state a few months ago—where a leading daily of the state has alleged that the Hi-tech Cell was snooping on the emails of nearly 250 Muslim individuals and institutions. It cannot escape our attention that the arrest and raid were made on the eve of the SIMI Tribunal sitting in Kerala. Advocate Shahnawas has been assisting the SIMI lawyers in the Tribunal for the past many years and was also due to assist now.


Shahnwas’s arrest comes after Ghalib’s verses were blamed for instigating members of the banned group SIMI and a children’s magazine, Umang published by the Delhi Urdu Academy was cited as incriminating material in an affidavit seeking extension of the ban on SIMI. This follows the condemning of dozens of organizations, including one that hosted AIMPLB convention in Mumbai, as ‘fronts for SIMI’.


The arrest of Advocate Shahnawas is an attack on the very process of law and an attempt to stifle the voice of dissent. Targeting and implicating lawyers in spurious cases encroaches upon the right to access legal aid without fear. It is a clear attempt to also demoralize and intimidate Advocate Shahnwas’s clients—many of them victims of a communal witch-hunt.


We demand that he be released immediately and all his files and work related documents be returned without any conditions.


Abu Zafar, Journalist

Ajit Sahi, senior journalist

Anil Tharayath Varghese, Delhi Solidarity Group

BT Venketesh, Advocate, Bangalore

Feroze Khan Ghazi, South Asian Minorities Lawyers Association (SAMLA)

Gauhar Iqbal, Social Activist, Delhi

Hany Babu, Delhi University

Imran Ali, Advocate, Delhi

Jawahar Raja, Advocate, Delhi

Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Mumbai

Kashif-ul-Huda, Editor,

Kavita Srivastava, PUCL

Mahtab Alam, Human Rights activist and journalist

Mansi Sharma, activist

Mayur Suresh, Advocate, Delhi

Mukul Dube, Columnist and Writer

N.D. Pancholi, Advocate, Delhi

Savad Rahman, Journalist, Kerala

Shabnam Hashmi, ANHAD

Shankar Gopalakrishnan, Campaign for Survival and Dignity (in individual capacity)

Seema Mustafa, senior journalist

SQR Illyas, Welfare Party

Trideep Pais, Advocate, Delhi

Zafarul-Islam Khan, Editor, The Milli Gazette


Released by Manisha Sethi, Adeel Mehdi, Ahmed Sohaib, Sanghamitra Misra and others for Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association (JTSA)