New Delhi: Sharjeel Usmani, a third-year political science student at the Aligarh Muslim University was released on Tuesday after getting bail in two cases registered against him in relation to the December 15, 2019, anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) protests in the campus. Usmani was arrested on July 8 this year.
A sessions court in Aligarh granted him bail in cases number 682 and 697 in which he was charged under several sections of the IPC including rioting, disobedience of an order promulgated by a public servant and assault on a public servant.
“The bail conditions are hereby allowed subject to the conditions that the accused will not tamper with the evidence and he will be present either personally or through his council before the trial court when he is asked as such,” the court said.
He was arrested from his house in Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh by the UP police and his phones and laptop were seized. He was also charged under the Goonda Act for allegedly causing hurt to a police officer. The police claim that Usmani, who was leading a protest against the CAA in the university, and other students pelted stones at and injured police. The students, meanwhile, accuse the police of unleashing violence on students who were protesting peacefully.
Usmani told The Wire, “Two things about my arrest troubled me the most. First, after they [UP Police] took me, they didn’t inform my family of the charges or my whereabouts for nearly 24 hours. And then to have the ATS (Anti-Terrorism Squad) was also quite shocking.”
At the time of his arrest, there was an outcry against the UP Police after Usmani’s family said the student was arrested by plainclothes policemen who refused to show their identification. It was later revealed that the arrest was made by the ATS.
Talking about his release, he said, “I don’t see it as a legal victory for myself. Take the example of an innocent man walking on the streets. Somebody comes and puts a knife to his throat. After a while, the knife is removed and the man is asked to celebrate his newly found freedom. I can’t. They should apologise for putting a knife to the throat in the first place.” He told The Wire over phone that the line of questioning in the case was not clear.
Ale Nabi, his lawyer told The Wire, “Four total cases were filed against him, along with many other students. He was arrested from Azamgarh on July 8.”
Other charges invoked against Usmani include promoting enmity between different groups, attempt to murder, transmitting obscene material in electronic form and assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty.