Delhi Police get 10-day custody of Umar Khalid after his arrest under anti-terror law
A Delhi court on Monday sent Umar Khalid to 10-day police custody day after his arrest under the anti-terror law Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for alleged role in the conspiracy behind the February riots in the national capital.
Special public prosecutor Amit Prasad had told additional sessions judge Amitabh Rawat at the Karkardooma district court that Khalid has to be confronted with voluminous documentary evidence.
The Delhi Police’s special cell is looking into a larger conspiracy case in addition to multiple cases filed in connection with the riots that left 53 people dead and close to 400 injured.
In separate charge sheets related to the riots, the police have said Khalid met suspended and jailed Aam Aadmi Party’s councillor Tahir Hussain and activist Khalid Saifi on January 8 at the Shaheen Bagh sit-in protest site against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA)-National Register of Citiznens (NRC) to allegedly plan the riots. He has been interrogated twice in the last two months for his alleged role. The police have also linked Khalid’s speeches to the riots.
Khalid’s lawyer, Trideep Pais, told the court during the virtual hearing that the police have to clarify where he gave the speeches and show the proof that his client asked people to come and protest. He added Khalid is against the CAA and he is not ashamed of it.
Khalid’s father, Sayed Qasim Rasool Ilyas, has accused the Delhi police of targeting those who participated in the protests against the CAA and NRC.
“This is nothing but an attempt to corner the activists and silence the voices of those who dissent against the government. The Delhi police have been trying to weave a false story by naming few people who participated in the anti-CAA-NRC protests, including Umar, as the ‘masterminds’ behind the north-east [Delhi] violence. However, everyone knows who was actually behind the riots.”
The riots were triggered following clashes between supporters of the CAA and its opponents.
The CAA’s passage in December to fast-track the citizenship process for non-Muslims, who have entered India from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh before December 31, 2014, triggered protests across the country.
Opponents of the law insist it is discriminatory and unconstitutional as it leaves out the Muslims and links faith to citizenship in a secular country. They say it could result in the expulsion or detentions of the Muslims unable to provide the documentation if the law is seen in the context of a proposed pan-India NRC. A process carried out in Assam to detect undocumented immigrants led to the exclusion of around two million people from the NRC in 2018.
Khalid was arrested after being questioned twice. He has denied the allegations, calling the inquiry a conspiracy.
Hussain, Jamia student Meeran Haider, Jamia Coordination Committee’s Safoora Zargar, and Pinjra Tod activists Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita have also been arrested under UAPA on charges of allegedly planning and executing the north-east Delhi riots.
The riots were triggered in the run-up to the assembly elections in Delhi and right-wing groups have also faced accusations of fanning them.
Swaraj India chief Yogendra Yadav called Khalid a thinking idealist and added he is shocked that an anti-terror law has been used to arrest the activist who has always opposed violence and communalism in any form. “He is undoubtedly among the leaders that India deserves. @DelhiPolice can’t detain India’s future for long,” Yadav said in a tweet.