Sharjeel was in touch with Jamaat to mobilise anti-CAA protest: Police
JNU student, Sharjeel Imam was in touch with members of the Tablighi Jamaat and residents of Okhla to mobilise crowd for anti-CAA (Citizenship[Amendment] Act) protests outside Jamia Millia Islamia campus last year, Delhi police told a city court last Saturday.
On December 15, violence had erupted following an anti-CAA protest outside Jamia campus with a mob torching vehicles and pelting stones at the police on the Jamia Road, near Friends Colony and on Mathura Road.
Referring to the violence and road blockade of December 15 in the charge sheet against Imam, police have attached a WhatsApp message that they had allegedly retrieved from Imam’s cell phone. The message has been taken on record and verified by the Central Forensic Science Laboratory, according to the submission by the police.
The police have filed a charge sheet against Imam in connection with making inflammatory speeches at Jamia and Aligarh Muslim University. Police have also booked Imam for sedition for a speech in which he had allegedly talked about cutting off the Northeastern states from India. Imam is currently lodged in a jail in Guwahati.
In the charge sheet, the police have quoted the message which Imam purportedly posted on the WhatsApp group,Muslims of JNU, that was created by Imam on December 5, according to the police.
The message sent at 9.57:15 am on December 15 reads....”Yesterday dozens of people from our group were present at Jamia...The following decisions were taken. 1) We will talk to various organisations of Jamia tomorrow and try to work for a joint plan of chakka jam.....Some important roads like Mathura road need to be blocked..2) The zuhar namaaz will be offered in Jamaat ki Markaz Masjid and there will be talk to Jamaat seniors about our plan. 3) We shall from groups of 10 or more than start touring Okhla using mike.....”
When contacted, Imam’s lawyer, Ahmad Ibrahim said, “We do not have anything to say now. We would see everything at the stage of trial.”
In the charge sheet, police have said that the message(WhatsApp) makes it clear about Imam’s intention to block the Mathura Road. “...Further during the day, the intention of the accused was implemented as well and a riot also took place there. Further, the accused has also mentioned that they will involve jamat ki markaz masjid’s seniors. This message makes it clear in advance about the future role of other characters, which materialised at a later stage,” police wrote in their charge sheet submitted to the court.
The first time, police mentioned about Markaz in the context of the north-east riots was on June 3, in their charge sheet against a school principal, who was arrested for allegedly orchestrating violence in north-east Delhi. Police had then said that the man was in touch with members of Pinjra Tod (whose members have been arrested), Tablighi Jamaat and Popular Front of India (whose members have also been arrested).
Senior Delhi police officers refused comment on Imam’s WhatsApp, messages saying that they have presented their case in the charge sheet before the court and the court has taken cognizance. Police also said the investigation into the conspiracy behind the riots is still on.
The Tablighi Jamaat has rejected the police claims and denied any association with the riots. “It’s well known fact that the Tablighi Jamaat is an absolutely apolitical entity. Since the day of its inception in1926, it has not participated in any political movement, whatsoever. Therefore, all such allegations are wide of the mark,” said Fuzail Ayyubi, counsel for the Jamaat.
Imam,31, a student of the Jawaharlal Nehru University was arrested on January 28 from his house in Bihar’s Jehanabad. After his arrest police had said that they would probe him for the violence in Jamia campus. A resident of Kako in Bihar, Imam was pursuing his PhD from the Centre for Historical Studies in JNU.
Many activists such as Imam, Safoora Zargar and others arrested for their alleged involvement in the northeast Delhi riots, have accused Delhi police of launching a witchhunt against the anti-CAA voices. Police have denied the allegations and said that their cases are being heard in courts and that courts have denied bail because of the evidence against the arrested persons.
The CAA was passed by Parliament last year and opened a fast-track to citizenship for Hindu, Sikh, Parsi, Buddhist, Christian and Jain refugees who fled religious persecution in Bangladesh, Pakistan or Afghanistan and entered India on or before December 31, 2014. Soon after, protests broke out across India, with activists and opposition parties saying the law violated constitutional provisions and was discriminatory towards Muslims. In response, the government said the law aimed to provide a safe haven for people fleeing persecution and was not meant to take away anyone’s rights or citizenship.