Can’t see everything as terror, Umar Khalid tells Delhi HC
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.
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.
“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.
For the uninitiated, Dhan Mill Compound, a former granary and a cluster of warehouses, has morphed into the city’s modish food, fashion, design and lifestyle destination. Its streets are lined with art cafes, home décor outlets, ateliers, art galleries, pottery studios, dance halls and high-end boutiques, whose facades and interiors are as interesting and experimental as the wares they deal in. Interestingly, all of these fancy establishments are housed in re-purposed warehouse buildings, which still have metal roofs.
According to a Delhi government official, a break-up of the total jobs, including the list of employers and the number of people they hired, will be shared “in a couple of days”. Notably, the government portal was launched by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on July 27, 2020, to help entry-level and blue-collar job seekers connect with employers at a time when the Covid-19 induced lockdown left many people unemployed.
“Manufactures, and start-ups which are working on alternatives to single-use plastic have to pay more GST for raw material. Hence, the Delhi government will write to the Centre and request a reduction in GST rates,” Delhi environment minister Gopal Rai said.
Safdarjung, Delhi’s base weather station, recorded 0.1mm of rainfall between 8:30am and 5:30pm on Sunday. The Capital recorded 1.9mm of rainfall on Saturday and 117.2mm on Friday, making the monthly total 119.2mm so far. The normal monthly average for July is 210.6mm, said weather experts.
Monsoon elevates Adam Khan’s tomb into an emergency sanctuary for passersby (and dogs) speared by sudden showers. Perched atop a Mehrauli hillock, the monument overlooks the Qutub Minar, which appears totally bechara and defenceless in the heavy rain.