Sharjeel Imam moves bail, says his speeches did not call for violence
Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student Sharjeel Imam, arrested under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the sedition law for his allegedly inflammatory speeches during the protests against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), on Thursday contended before a Delhi court that his speeches were not seditious as he did not call for violence and was only sensitising people about the new laws.
Imam, currently lodged in Tihar jail, is being probed for his speeches at Jamia on December 13 and on January 16 at AMU, where he allegedly called for a “chakka jam” to “cut off” Assam and the rest of the north-east from the mainland.He was arrested on January 28 from Bihar’s Jehanabad district.
Moving his bail application before the Delhi court, his counsel Tanveer Ahmed Mir Thursday said a person trying to criticise a government policy or a particular political narrative can be booked for sedition only for “oblique motives”. He submitted that police have selectively taken passages from Imam’s speech and given them an illegal context.
“Question is, if anyone is a critique of a constitutional policy, does that enable the state to book him for sedition…Being a student of modern history, I believe he is fully enabled to express his views as a citizen of this country…He was just trying to sensitise people,” Mir contended.
He told additional sessions judge Amitabh Rawat that calling for blocking the roads (chakka jam) cannot be considered a secessionist call as there was no ulterior motive.
Reading passages from Imam’s speech where he spoke about “cutting off some cities”, Mir said, “He (Imam) called for blocking roads. It was not seditious. When the call ‘rail roko’ (stop the trains) is not seditious, why is the call of bringing the country to a standstill seditious?”
“There was no incitement to violence. Where is the call for violence? How does sedition come into play?” he argued.
The court after hearing detailed arguments posted the matter for further hearing to August 2 and August 4.