He had been behind bars after the Uttar Pradesh STF arrested him from Mumbai in February 2020. After spending nearly six months in a barrack with 150 inmates.
Dr Kafeel Khan, who was jailed for allegedly inciting violence by delivering speeches at anti-CAA-NRC protest rallies, but by the intervening night of September 1 and 2, after the Allahabad High Court ordered his release on Tuesday and thus he stepped out of Mathura jail was given heroic welcome with cheers and claps who thronged to greet him in large numbers
Here are edited excerpts of his interview Splco furnishes to its 1million plus vivid readers and sources thanks to National Herald :
First question to you is a cliché but holds relevance. People would like to know what your first reaction was when you heard of the Allahabad HC order.
The first thought that came in my mind was of gratitude. I felt deeply thankful to the people who fought for me. Secondly, my faith on judiciary was reinforced.
If you read the judgment closely, you will get to know that the Hon’ble HC has put forth a very critical view on the state of affairs in Uttar Pradesh.
The HC has said that 1) My speech did not incite violence 2) The District Magistrate had selective reading and selective mention of my speech and 3) My detention was illegal. Now nothing remains to be said.
Do you still believe what you said in anti CAA-NRC rallies?
What I said was ye humare wajood ki ladai hai (the fight against the CAA-NRC is a fight for our existence). Just that.
You were slapped with the NSA. We have seen many instances where the act was misused. What is your understanding about such cases?
In my view, regressive laws such as NSA, PSA and AFSPA must be repealed. In some states it is NSA, in others it is PSA, in North-East and Jammu and Kashmir it is AFSPA…These laws are being misused by the police, the State and its agencies to crush dissenting voices. Laws curtailing freedom of speech and criminalizing one’s opinion must be repealed. In Uttar Pradesh NSA is being invoked with a wholesale approach. The CM says invoke NSA against hundred, two hundred people, and the police goes on to arrest them and put them in jail.
You were arrested by the UP STF. UP STF is quite notorious for many things. How did they treat you?
(Laughs) Let me tell you that I am deeply thankful to the UP STF for giving me a lease of life otherwise you know STF’s cavalcade can turn turtle anywhere. And the distance between Mumbai and Mathura is very long. On a serious note, they harassed me in the beginning but later it was subdued. They behaved well with me.
What did the STF want to know? Your speech was in the public domain.
It was really funny. The STF thought I travelled to Japan and was planning to overthrow the government. I don’t know where they got this idea. So, they used to ask me about it. One day they asked about a white powder (perhaps they were looking for some explosives). I cannot even crush white tablets on my own, how would I make white powder? I told them that my passport has already been impounded.
How many days have you spent in jail? How was your life in the jail?
It seems that jail has become my second home in the BJP regime. It has been more than three-and-a-half years of BJP rule in UP. They term their rule as Ram Rajya. Borrowing their term, I say in the three-and-a-half years of BJP rule, I have spent nearly two years in jail in Ram Rajya.
As far as my life in jail is concerned, I have written a letter about it already. It was horrible. In the time of Coronavirus when social distancing is perhaps the only way to keep the pandemic at bay, I lived in a barrack with 150 inmates. We had only one toilet. The quality of food served to us was horrible.
News on the TV was the only entertainment, you can say. But whenever I switched it on, I found Sushant Singh on the screen. Seeing this, I thought Coronavirus had fled India. Now people have no problem with unemployment, the falling economy, Chinese aggression at border. The only thing that seems to matter to people is justice for Sushant.
What are your plans now?
I want to spend some time with my family. I have not seen my 11-months-old son for a long time. When I went to jail, he was just an infant. Now he can walk on his own.
After this, my priority is to host free medical camps in Assam and Bihar in flood affected areas. People are dying due to various vector borne diseases. Chikungunya and diarrhoea is killing poor people. I will host free medical camps for them with my team. I will discuss this with them and chalk out a plan.
UP CM Yogi Adityanath also comes from your district. Some believe he nurtured a grudge against you. Would you like to comment?
I would appeal to mukhyamantri ji to reinstate me at the BRD Medical College so that I can restart my practice and serve the people. Practising medicine is not just my profession only also my passion
You must be aware that UP Congress ran a long campaign for your release…
I am thankful to the UP Congress for fighting for my release. I am particularly thankful to Priyanka Gandhi ji, Ajay Kumar Lallu ji and head of the UP Minority Cell, Shahnawaz Alam. I also would like to thank the Samajwadi Party, the BSP and everyone else who stood behind me.
Politically, you are very active. Are you planning to join politics?
If you want to fix the system, you will have to enter in. That is my answer. As far as time frame is concerned, it remains to be seen