Listen to this article:
New Delhi: A Delhi court refused to grant bail to activists Gulfisha Fatima and Tasleem Ahmed in the case concerning what the Delhi police believes is a “larger conspiracy” behind the northeast Delhi riots of February 2020.
Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat dismissed Fatima’s bail plea, saying in view of the charge sheet and the accompanying documents, the allegations against the accused are “prima facie true” and therefore, no relief can be given on account of the embargo under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
The judge dismissed the bail application of Ahmed, saying he was actively involved along with Fatima and others in the protest before and at the time of the riots in northeast Delhi and the allegations against her also are prima facie true.
Last year, a Delhi court had allowed Ahmed to undergo surgery in government hospital after his lawyer Mahmood Pracha told the court that he was in risk of becoming seriously infected.
Fatima and Ahmed, along with several other activists, students and lawyers, have been booked under the anti-terror law, UAPA, in the infamous FIR 59/2020.
The case alleges a larger conspiracy behind the riots and claims made by police within it have been challenged by findings of the media, including The Wire, and other quarters.
Besides the accused, activist Khalid Saifi, Umar Khalid, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) students Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita, Jamia Coordination Committee members Safoora Zargar, former Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) councillor Tahir Hussain and several others have also been booked under the stringent law in the case.
Former Congress councillor Ishrat Jahan, also an accused in the case, walked out of Tihar Jail on Wednesday evening after she was granted bail.
Orders on the bail pleas of three other accused in the same case, Umar Khalid, Sharjeel Imam and Saleem Khan, have been deferred to March 21 and 22
In the order concerning Fatima’s bail plea, the court noted that the statements of the protected witnesses showed “sufficient incriminating material” against the accused, who was “not only involved in the entire protest before the period of riots at Seelampur and Jafrabad in northeast Delhi, but was also actively guiding it”.
It further recorded that Fatima allegedly engaged in mass mobilisation, created two WhatsApp groups and was also present in northeast Delhi at the time of the riots.
“”In fact, as per the witnesses, she was the one who started the blockade and prompted the attack on police personnel and others with weapons like dande, lal mirchi powder and others in the Jafrabad area, which had a cascading effect, leading to the riots,” the court noted.
In ascribing blame for the riots to the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act, the Delhi Police has also been blamed of removing focus from BJP leaders like Kapil Sharma who at the time were caught on video delivering threats of violence.
The Delhi police repeated its assertion that the riots were “premeditated” to take place when then US president Donald Trump was in Delhi. The Wire has analysed how such planning was impossible considering the timeline of the announcement of Trump’s visit.