JNU student Sharjeel Imam arrested from Bihar’s Jehanabad in sedition case
Sharjeel Imam, a research scholar at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) booked for sedition, was arrested in Bihar’s Jehanabad district on Tuesday afternoon, officials said.
A team of police from Delhi and Bihar were on a lookout for him for the last one week after cases of sedition were lodged against him in six states, including Delhi and Bihar.
Sharjeel Imam, one of the organisers of the anti-citizenship act protests in Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh, was booked in the Capital for his alleged remarks threatening to “cut-off” Assam from the rest of India.
The joint team of Delhi Police’s crime branch and Bihar police conducted raids at Imam’s native village under Kako police station area after getting a tip-off about his visit.
Sharjeel Imam’s arrest by Delhi Police comes hours after his younger brother, Muzzamil Imam, was picked up for questioning. Two of his other relatives and driver were detained on Monday and later let off.
A verbal duel ensued between officials of Delhi and Jehanabad Police as both forces insisted to take him under their custody due to the seriousness of the charges he is facing.
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar said Bihar police would cooperate with the Delhi police. Those who indulged in nefarious activities will be punished in accordance with the law, he added.
The police action against the IIT-Bombay alumnus came after a video featuring Imam had gone viral on social media on Saturday.
“If we have 500,000 organised people then we can permanently cut the northeast from India or at least for one month… It is our responsibility to isolate Assam from India, then only they will listen to us,” Imam is heard saying in the video.
HT could not independently check the veracity of the video clip featuring Imam, the son of former Janata Dal(United) leader late Akbar Imam.
His mother, Agsan Rahim, has alleged the media of distorting her son’s statements and said the police were “unnecessarily harassing the family.”
“He was obviously disturbed by the CAA and fears over the National Register of Citizens (NRC) being implemented across the country which, he said, would affect not just Muslims but all poor people,” she had said over the weekend.
His uncle Arshad Imam also rued the fact that his statements have been distorted to suit political needs.
“A 40-second video of the 40-minute speech is being presented. It is being exaggerated. Every Indian has the right to protest,” said Arshad, who was also interrogated by the police.
If convicted under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), Sharjeel Imam could be imprisoned for life.
Back in Delhi, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has targeted the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on its stand over the protest. The ruling party led by Arvind Kejriwal has, in turn, questioned why the central government has not taken any action in the matter.
And, the protesters of Shaheen Bagh have disassociated themselves from Imam’s comments and said the speech was not given in the area.
At least 500 protesters, mostly women, have been protesting in Shaheen Bagh against the citizenship act and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) for the last 40 days.
They have said they will call off the agitation only when the amended act, which grants citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis, Buddhists and Christians fleeing religious persecution from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh, is withdrawn.