'CAA Protests Were Secular, Chargesheet was Communal': Umar Khalid's Lawyer Tells Delhi Court

Khalid's legal counsel also reiterated that the chargesheet in the case was born out of the investigating officer's "fertile imagination" and that Khalid should not have been made an accused in the case in the first place.

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New Delhi: Student activist Umar Khalid’s legal counsel told a Delhi court on Tuesday, November 2, that many people participated in the protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) in February last year. While the protests were secular in nature, it was the chargesheet filed by the Delhi police that was communal, Khalid’s lawyer said, according to LiveLaw.

Khalid’s lawyer, senior advocate Trideep Pais, made the above remarks before additional sessions judge (ASJ) Amitabh Rawat, who has been hearing Khalid’s bail plea in a Northeast Delhi communal violence case. Khalid has been charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

Pais went on to argue that there was “no rational basis” to make Khalid an accused in the case and that no violence or funding can be traced back to him. Moreover, Pais argued that Khalid was not present in Delhi at the relevant time.

“It shows motive. You have a person who speaks out against the State and you want to frame him,” Bar and Bench quoted Pais saying. 

Pais went on to point out contradictions within the chargesheet, in particular the claim that Khalid had started the Whatsapp group titled ‘Jamia Coordination Committee’; a group which Khalid is not even a member of. 

While arguing against this claim, Pais noted that they were born out of the “fertile imagination” of the investigating officer (IO) and went on to say, “This person is not an IO. He is a script writer. Literally this novella this person has written.”

The court was made aware of the fact that one Kumail Fatima had created the group, leading Pais to remark, “When he is not an accused, how can I be made an accused?” Pais, however, clarified that he was not demanding that Fatima be made an accused but rather that no one should have been made an accused.

Pais also said that, since the investigating agency has Khalid’s phone, they can verify whether or not the Whatsapp group in question had been made by him.

The Delhi police’s chargesheet in the present case had been pulled up by Pais on earlier occasions as well, when he had dubbed it “communal” and stated that it “read like a 9 pm news script of one of those shouting news channels.”

Also read: Umar Khalid Likens Delhi Riots Chargesheet to ‘TV Script’, Says Police Claims Have No Basis

In the earlier hearing, Pais had called into question the veracity of the witness statements recorded by the police, which he brought up in the present hearing as well.

With reference to the statements of one protected witness who has been dubbed ‘Bond’ and was a part of the Whatsapp group, Pais noted that no direct reference or attribution had been made to Khalid. Moreover, he noted that Bond was the only witness whose statement the police has able to obtain and question the fortuitous timing at which the witness came forward; in August, 2020, one month before Khalid’s arrest.

Pais also took objection to police’s dubbing of a chakka jam as a “terrorist act”, stating that student protestors, farmers and various other groups use it as a means to protest. He also took objection to claims that women protestors were paid to sit in at protest sites and went on to say that no exact words are used and that only, “Broad statements are used.”

The matter has been listed for further hearing on November 8.