The undersigned condemn in strongest terms the arrest of Advocate Shanavas, a leading human rights activist of Kerala. Advocate Shanavas, 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 Shanavas has been assisting the SIMI lawyers in the Tribunal for the past many years and was also due to assist now. He has been a thorn in the eyes of the Kerala police ever since he successfully argued against the continuation of the ban on SIMI in the Tribunal headed by Geeta Mittal.

Shanvas’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 Akademi 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 Shanavas is an attack on the very process of law and an attempt to stifle the voice of dissent. Targetting 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 Shanvas’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.

Sd/-
Abu Zafar, Journalist
Ajit Sahi, Senior journalist
Anil Tharayath Varghese, Delhi Solidarity Group
BT Venketesh, Advocate, Bangalore
Feroze Khan Ghazi, South Asian Minorities Law Association (SAMLA)
Gauhar Iqbal, Social Activist, Delhi
Hany Babu, Delhi University
Imran Ali, Advocate, Delhi
Jawahar Raja, Advocate, Delhi
Kashif-ul-Huda, Editor, TwoCircles.net
Kavita Srivastava, PUCL
Mahtab Alam, Human Rights activist and journalist
Mansi Sharma, Activist
Mayur Suresh, Advocate, Delhi
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)
3rd May 2012