New Delhi: A Delhi court on Monday sent former JNU student leader Umar Khalid, arrested under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), to police custody for ten days in a case related to the communal violence in northeast Delhi in February.
Khalid, who was arrested on Sunday night, was produced before additional sessions judge Amitabh Rawat through video conferencing and was remanded for custodial interrogation till September 24, 2020.
The court allowed police to interrogate Umar Khalid in its custody saying it was a fit case for police custody remand.
It said the investigation in the present case of conspiracy for Delhi riots which took place in Delhi is continuing.
Police had sought his custody for ten days, saying they wanted to confront him with documents running into 11 lakh pages.
Investigators alleged that during interrogation, his active involvement in anti-CAA/NPR/NCR protests with the support of several other ‘radical groups or organisations’ that they claim led to the riots was “reconfirmed”.
“Considering the nature of the case and role of accused Umar Khalid that has surfaced so far regarding the conspiracy and involvement in anti-CAA (anti-Citizenship Amendment Act)/NPR (National Population Register) /NRC (National Register for Citizens) protest with the support of several radical groups/organisations resulting in riots and the fact that the custodial interrogation has been sought of the accused Umar Khalid for confronting the huge technical data as well as material that has come during the investigation, I deem it fit that, for having an effective and proper investigation to allow the present application for seeking police custody remand of the accused of a period of 10 days,” the judge said in his order.
In the FIR, police has alleged that the communal violence was a “premeditated conspiracy” which was allegedly hatched by Khalid and two others.
He has been booked for the offences of sedition, murder, attempt to murder, promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion and rioting.
The police accuse the former JNU student leader of giving ‘provocative speeches’ at two different places and appealed to the citizens to come out on streets and block the roads during the visit of US President Donald Trump. The intention was to spread ‘propaganda at the international level’ that minorities in India are being tortured, the FIR alleges.
In its order, the court also said that since there was apprehension regarding Khalid’s safety, in case he was taken out of the office, the deputy commissioner of police (DCP) should make proper arrangements for his safety and security during the entire police custody remand and medically examined every 24 hours.
It allowed his counsel to confer with him for a period not exceeding half an hour at the beginning of the police custody and thereafter daily during police custody remand at a specified venue.
“The concerned police officials shall ensure that they remain outside the audible range during the period and all should follow the necessary distancing protocols in view of the outbreak of COVID-19,” it said.
The remand application alleged that the ex-JNU student has been found actively involved behind the “conspiracy” hatched in setting up protests against the CAA at various sites in Delhi.
“Further interrogation was needed in order to unearth deep-rooted conspiracy and to collect clinching evidence to arrest the remaining conspirators behind these riots. During the course of the investigation, names of some more suspects have also cropped up and Khalid was required to be questioned at length about those suspects to obtain their exact particulars for further investigation,” the police said.
Umar Khalid’s counsel opposed the remand application, saying he was not in Delhi during February 23-26, 2020, when the riots took place. He said the former JNU students union leader has already been interrogated twice in the case, first on July 31, 2020, for five hours and then on Sunday for about 12 hours.
He further said that the accused was previously attacked in 2016 in court premises so there was a threat to his life and submitted that his safety and security may be ensured.
JNU student Sharjeel Imam, Pinjra Tod members and JNU students Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal, Jamia Millia Islamia students Asif Iqbal Tanha and Gulfisha Fathima, former Congress councillor Ishrat Jahan, Jamia Coordination Committee members Safoora Zargar, Meeran Haider, president of the Jamia Alumni Association Shifa-Ur-Rehman, suspended AAP councillor Tahir Hussain and activist Khalid Saifi have also been booked under the anti-terror law in the case.
Many civil society members have said the Delhi police’s investigation of the riots is biased, accusing the police itself of a ‘conspiracy‘ to take action against protesters who agitated against the CAA and NRC.
(With PTI inputs)