A court in Delhi on Monday sent former Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student Umar Khalid to 10 days in police custody, a day after his arrest under the Act of Illegal Activities (Prevention), or UAPA, for his role of claimed in a plot after February riots in the north-eastern district of the national capital.
Khalid’s adviser, Trideep Pais, told the court that his client was not in Delhi between February 23 and 26, when riots broke out; that he was against the Citizenship Act (Amendment), or CAA, and was not ashamed of his stance; and that police had not yet produced evidence that Khalid had instigated the protests.
The court accepted the police detention request on the grounds that the 33-year-old had to face a large volume of technical data and that he should be sent to detention in order for an effective investigation to be carried out.
Some activists and members of civil society have opposed Khalid’s arrest on suspicion of soft reasons and have asked why police have taken no action against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Kapil Mishra, who was seen delivering a speech. inflammatory in north-east Delhi the day before the violence erupted on 24 February.
They also asked why other BJP leaders did not reserve for speeches delivered during the Delhi election just weeks before the riots.
Nine retired IPS officers wrote to Delhi Police Commissioner SN Srivastava on Monday saying they were “sympathetic” to police implicating anti-CAA protesters while “striking all those who incited violence and joined the party in power “. Although the letter did not mention any names, BJP leaders Anurag Thakur and Parvesh Verma were criticized at the time for speeches and slogans ahead of the Delhi elections.
Mishra, who denies all allegations, released a video on Monday congratulating police on arresting Khalid and “people like him” and likening the riots to the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attacks.
Delhi Police produced Khalid before additional hearing judge Amitabh Rawat in a virtual Karkardooma court hearing Monday afternoon.
Special Prosecutor Amit Prasad said Khalid had to deal with documents spanning nearly 1.1 million pages and “big technical data”.
The judge allowed Khalid’s lawyer to interact with his client for half an hour each day, while urging police officers to stay out of the hearing during meetings. He also directed a deputy police commissioner (DCP) to take steps to ensure Khalid’s safety and security during the police arrest after Pais raised concerns over his client’s safety in the event he is pulled out of the police station.
Fifty-three people were killed and about 400 injured in riots in northeast Delhi, which began as clashes between pro and anti-CAA and protesters before taking on a common color.
Police claimed that an interrogation of witnesses revealed that Khalid was coordinating between protest sites in Delhi in collaboration with other radical groups.
“Further questioning is needed in order to uncover the deep-rooted conspiracy and gather clinical evidence to catch / arrest the conspirators behind these riots. During the course of the investigation, the names of several other suspects have also been collected and they are asked to be charged above to be interrogated at length for those suspects to get their exact details for further investigation, ”reads the police detention application.
Khalid was arrested around 11:00 a.m. Sunday after 10 hours of questioning. He was arrested in a case recorded by the Delhi Police special cell that is investigating a larger suspected plot after the Delhi riots. The case is registered under strict Sections, including 13, 16, 17 and 18 of UAPA dealing with illegal activities, terrorist acts, fundraising for terrorist acts and conspiracy.
In the same case, police have arrested at least 11 others, including former Congressman Ishrat Jahan, former Aam Adam Party (AAP) councilor Tahir Hussain, activists Khalid Saifi, Safoora Zargar and Gufisha Khatoon, who are students of Jamia Millia Islamia, and Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita, both JNU students and members of the Pinjra Tod women collective.
Police also claimed: “The riots were planned to take place during or before the visit of US President Donald Trump in February 2020.”
“My son was targeted for taking part in protests against the CAA and the National Register of Citizens across the country,” said Khalid’s father, Sayed Qasim Rasool Ilyas.
Khalid has been named in numerous first information reports (FIRs) and indictments filed by police in riot cases. Police have claimed that Khalid orchestrated the riots along with AAP councilor Hussain and activist Khalid Saifi, a member of the United Against Hate group. With at least four indictments filed in city courts, police have said Khalid met with two men at the Shaheen Bagh protest site on Jan. 8, during which they discussed a plan to orchestrate the riots.
In a twitter post, lawyer Prashant Bhushan criticized Delhi Police for arresting Khalid but not acting against Kapil Mishra.
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