Can’t see everything as terror, Umar Khalid tells Delhi HC

The submission was made by Khalid’s counsel, senior advocate Trideep Pais, before a Delhi high court bench of justices Siddharth Mridul and Rajnish Bhatnagar after the court asked him if the protest instilled fear among the masses.
Umar Khalid . (HT Archive)
Umar Khalid . (HT Archive)
Updated on May 24, 2022 02:52 AM IST
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Student activist Umar Khalid on Monday sought bail in the main conspiracy case of the 2020 Delhi riots case, saying the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) did not instil fear and insecurity among the people and added that the court should not “fall into the trap of interpreting everything as terror”.

The submission was made by Khalid’s counsel, senior advocate Trideep Pais, before a Delhi high court bench of justices Siddharth Mridul and Rajnish Bhatnagar after the court asked him if the protest instilled fear among the masses.

“So your case is that there was a sense of insecurity instilled in the public but you had nothing to do with it? Justice Mridul asked.

Also read: Delhi riots 2020: CAA protests against unjust law, not Sovereign, Umar Khalid tells court

Pais responded that the alleged fear was not as grave and added, “We should not fall in the trap of interpreting everything as terror… If that is the case, every criminal act will become terror.”

Khalid, along with several others, has been booked under the anti-terror law, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, or UAPA, in the case for being the alleged “mastermind” of the February 2020 riots which left 53 people dead and over 400 injured. Communal riots were triggered in parts of north-east Delhi after clashes between anti- and pro-CAA protesters near Jafrabad Metro station.

Pais, while seeking bail for Khalid, told the court that the anti-CAA protests were against an “unjust law” by persons who want to be a part of the country and it was in no way an act against the sovereignty of the country.

The lawyer contended that the provisions of the anti-terrorist law (UAPA) cannot be attracted as terrorism does not merely arise by causing disturbance of law and order or of public order.

He also referred to a Supreme Court ruling which had held that terrorism is an act that travels beyond the capacity of ordinary law agency to tackle under ordinary penal law, and attempts to acquire power or control by intimidation and cause fear in large section of people.

Also read: Delhi HC directs Umar Khalid's bail plea in 2020 riots case to another bench

“Several of the acts or instances cited against me (Khalid) were not even qualifying (as) terror. They were just either protests or meetings. They did not qualify even as terror or conspiracy. I did not take part in any violent protest, nor is there any material to show my participation in the violent protest,” submitted Pais.

Khalid has challenged a March 24 order by a trial court which dismissed his bail plea, saying that the allegations against him are “prima facie” true.

The court will continue to hear the matter on Tuesday.

Activist Khalid Saifi, JNU students Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita, Jamia coordination committee members Safoora Zargar, suspended municipal councillor Tahir Hussain and others have also been booked under the stringent UAPA in the riots conspiracy case.

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