'Case Based on Half-Truths, Witness Accounts Cooked Up,' Umar Khalid's Counsel Tells Court

'The witness is unable to point out a specific activity that I undertook by virtue of which it can be said that I did an illegal act, a terrorist act.'

Listen to this article:

New Delhi: Former JNU scholar Umar Khalid told a court through his lawyer on Monday, November 8, that statements of the witnesses in the Delhi riots conspiracy case were fabricated, as police did not have any evidence, and that a case cannot be made against him on half-truths.

Khalid and several others have been booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), a stringent anti-terror law, and are accused of being the conspirators of the north-east Delhi riots in February, 2020. However, the Delhi Police’s ‘conspiracy’ angle has been criticised by several quarters and its loopholes have also been examined by The Wire.

Arguing his bail plea before Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat, senior advocate Trideep Pais read out the statements of three protected witnesses and claimed that they were contradictory and cooked up.

During the proceedings, Pais read out a police allegation from the charge sheet regarding an alleged secret meeting in Delhi’s Seelampur area on January 23 and 24 last year in which police claim that Khalid had allegedly directed that the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests should be escalated to riots and result in the spilling of blood of policemen and others.

In the last hearing on November 2, Khalid had said that the anti-CAA protest was secular but the charge sheet in the Delhi riots conspiracy case was communal and that the police fabricated a story to suit their narrative, calling it a “naked form of false implication”.

In an earlier hearing in September, Pais, as Khalid’s counsel, had likened the charge sheet to a TV script, saying there is no basis for any statements that it makes.

Besides him, JNU students Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita, Jamia Coordination Committee member Safoora Zargar, former AAP councillor Tahir Hussain and several others have also been booked under the UAPA in the case.

Also watch | ‘Witness Statement Fabricated; Chargesheet Reads Like TV Script’: Umar Khalid’s Lawyer

Pais said that photographs of the meeting were taken and uploaded on Facebook, and thus it could not have been a secret meeting. “Does it really look secret to this Court?” he asked.


He also called the protected witness ‘Sierra’, who gave a statement to the police on this alleged secret meeting, cooked up .

“From the statement, it is clear that Sierra is the chaiwala [tea seller] who comes and gives chai in the meetings. He is the only witness who says that the meeting was secret. All other witnesses do not claim this. They all contradict each other,” Pais said.

He added, “How would a person speak in front of a chaiwala and spill the entire beans of conspiracy? The witness waits from January to June and appears miraculously before the police. Clearly a cooked-up witness.”

Pais asked how a tea seller would miraculously know the names of all the people in a secret meeting, including those who are not even there.

The advocate submitted, “He said Natasha Narwal was present but she was not there. Should you believe this man?”

“You [Police] can’t have half-truths to go and make a case against me. Clearly, these statements are written by someone else, given to these people to pass them off as theirs because you don’t have any evidence. So, you call people to the police station and tell them that I want to implicate so and so,” the lawyer said.

Pais further said that after ‘Sierra’ did not record the statement before the magistrate under Section 164 of CrPC, the police moved on to another protected witness ‘Smith’.

Also read: Backstory: Why Umar Khalid Is in Jail and Other Tales Spun by Media Disinformation

“Smith, however, did not say that the meeting was secret or took place in a secret office,” the lawyer said. “Reference to Umar Khalid is his presence in a meeting and nothing beyond that. So, the secret meeting theory is diminished by this witness.”

Gap in time

He also referred to another protected witness ‘Bravo’ and told the court that heavy reliance was placed on his statements to implicate Khalid. Bravo gave a statement about a Delhi Protest Support Group (DPSG) WhatsApp group allegedly involving Khalid and the formation of a high-level committee in December 2019.

“What is interesting is that only four messages were sent by me on DPSG group. I simply gave people the location of the protest site. This is the sum total of my interaction,” Pais said.

He said that Bravo admittedly was part of the group and left it on February 22, 2020, due to disagreements but gave the statement to the police on June 8. “I wonder how can such a statement surface after so many months?” he said.

Further, he said that bravo was an indication of a pattern of false implications in the FIR and charge sheet. Pais told the court that the witness had cherry-picked the names in his statement.

“There is no high-level committee. He cooks up the high-level committee. He cherry-picks names. Most people assigned roles are not arrested and I am arrested. Whenever he refers to me, he refers to me with a clutch of other names. Their responsibilities are more. Mine are insignificant or not at all,” Pais said.

He added, “The witness is unable to point out a specific activity that I undertook by virtue of which it can be said that I did an illegal act, a terrorist act.”

(With PTI inputs)