New Delhi: A Delhi court on Thursday sent former Jawaharlal Nehru University student leader Umar Khalid, arrested under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, in a case related to the communal violence in north east Delhi in February, to judicial custody till October 22.
Khalid was arrested late in the night of September 13. He has also been charged with sedition and 18 other sections of the Indian Penal Code, including murder, attempt to murder, promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion and rioting.
Though the police had claimed in various riots-related FIRs and charge sheets that Khalid was a key ‘conspirator’ and had summoned him for interrogation several times, they had not moved to arrest him before. He was formally taken into custody after being summoned to the police station for “interrogation”.
Khalid was presented before Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat through video conferencing, at the end of his police custody. Police have not sought further custody of him.
Khalid had expressed the wish of meeting his parents before going to Tihar Jail, which the court granted, provided they reach on time, reported Indian Express. His lawyer Trideep Pais, said the report, also asked for security for Khalid inside the jail and for him to be allowed to take his glasses inside.
In the FIR, police has claimed that the communal violence was a “premeditated conspiracy” which was allegedly hatched by Khalid and two others.
Allegations against Umar Khalid, who has a PhD in history from JNU, were first aired on social media by Bharatiya Janata Party activists, including the ‘IT cell’ head Amit Malviya, when they circulated an edited clip of a speech he delivered in Amravati, Maharashtra on February 17.
A video of recorded by Khalid, a few days before his arrest and released on social media, speaks about the “false narrative” had been created against him by using his Amravati speech selectively. In it, he also said that the BJP government is targeting those who opposed the Citizenship Amendment Act.
Watch: Umar Khalid, the courageous son of India, just before being arrested pic.twitter.com/H9nKaGlRQ4
— Prashant Bhushan (@pbhushan1) September 16, 2020
Communal clashes broke out in northeast Delhi on February 24, leaving at least 53 people dead and around 200 injured.
Initially, police had alleged – in two chargesheets filed in cases relating to FIR 65/2020 and FIR 101/2020 – that Khalid (along with former city councillor Tahir Hussain and community activist Khalid Saifi) had been attempting to trigger violence in northeast Delhi during US President Donald Trump’s visit to India, from the time he participated in a meeting in January 8.
As The Wire has reported before, this was clearly a false claim because news on Trump’s visit was first reported only on January 13.
As noted in a report by Siddharth Varadarajan recently, “The police never responded to media reports about this glaring discrepancy in dates, which placed a question mark over the veracity of its others claims. However, the latest chargesheet filed by the Delhi Police Special Cell in the ‘riots conspiracy case’ registered under FIR 59/2020 has quietly dropped the ‘Trump’ angle from its description of the January 8 meeting…and moved this dimension of the ‘conspiracy’ to a less implausible date.”
(With PTI inputs)