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New Delhi: Activist Umar Khalid’s lawyer Trideep Pais on Friday likened the chargesheet filed against his client in the Delhi riots conspiracy case to a TV script, saying there is no basis for any statements that it makes.
Pais made these statements before a Delhi court presided over by additional sessions judge Amitabh Rawat, who is hearing Khalid’s bail plea.
In passionate arguments, the senior advocate said that while the chargesheet tries to present Khalid as communal, “it is the officer who drafted the report and his mind was communal”, according to the Indian Express.
According to LiveLaw, the lawyer said that the hyperbolic allegations in the chargesheet “read like a 9 pm news script of one of those shouting news channels” and are reflective of the “fertile imagination” of the investigating officer.
At a previous hearing, Pais had argued that the Delhi police did not have a case against Khalid and that their entire case was based on truncated video clips of a speech that the former JNU student made in Amravati, Maharashtra.
According to the Indian Express, Pais began his arguments by saying that “witness statements are being fabricated” against Khalid and that one of the protected witness was either speaking under press or with a forked tongue. The protected witness has made different and inconsistent statements in another FIR, Pais said, saying the court cannot take him seriously.
He said the inconsistent statements do not meet the test under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
The lawyer said parts of the chargesheet were born out of the “fertile imagination of the police officer who drafted it”, giving the example of the chargesheet describing Khalid as “a veteran of sedition”.
“Is this how chargesheets are written? It seems like a script of some news channel. Where did they get this from?” the lawyer said, according to the Indian Express. The chargesheet also described Khalid as the ‘harbinger’ of ‘Bharat Tere Tukde Honge’ slogan, to which Pais said the 2016 sedition case registered against Khalid does not allege that he used the slogan.
“As you go along, you will see there is no basis for any statement… When you procure a statement … against me… which is unreliable… you don’t give proof because there isn’t, because you are lying. What I have shown is that there is a white lie,” Pais said.
Regarding allegations that Khalid kept a safe distance from Delhi because he knew “Delhi will be thrown into the fire”, Pais sarcastically asked if the police had the ability to read minds, even referring to Voldemort, the antagonist in the Harry Potter book series.
He said portions of the chargesheet have been added to shape public opinion, saying repeated references to the accused being “communal” was meant to drill this point home. “But it has no basis,” Pais submitted, according to the Indian Express.
Pais read out the excerpt which stated that there was a “unmistakable hallmark of a maturing Umar Khalid” and added, “Ye biography likh raha hai mera? (Is he writing my biography?) How can such rubbish be written.”
The lawyer also took on allegations in the chargesheet that the accused persons used gender, media and secularism “to mask” the true intention of the anti-CAA protests. The police have attempted to give a communal narrative to the protests, but this is not the case, he stated.
“Have women said that they were exploited? Or that women cannot have right to protest? I’m not even saying that police is giving it a wrong twist. But is women protesting wrong? Or are they incapable of protesting? Does the movement of any sort be driven only by men?” Pais asked.
“Of course there’s a nationwide protest against CAA. Which statement establishes that everything was identifiable from a particular community? No! It was a secular protest. It’s almost as if having a secular opposition to CAA is wrong,” the lawyer told the court, according to LiveLaw.
The police are attempting to show Khalid as a leader of an “imaginative movement” which contributed to the violence in Delhi, the lawyer said, but there is no basis to support these claims.
Pais read out another portion which said that Khalid “was following the template passed on to him in legacy by his father and the second being the ultra left ideological space”. He accused the police of writing “just about anything”, comparing it to the Family Man web series, which is about an intelligence agent.
“This is the kind of stuff which is read and peddled, the creation of public opinion in order to substitute the lack of evidence to carry out your objective of unfairly prosecute people when you have no material to do so,” Pais submitted, according to the Indian Express.
Pais could not conclude his arguments and the court will continue to hear the bail plea on Monday.
The Delhi police’s investigation linking the Delhi riots with the CAA protests has faced criticism from several quarters. The police have been criticised for arresting activists and students for the conspiracy but not acting against BJP leaders like Kapil Mishra, who gave an incendiary speech just hours before the outbreak of violence.
Courts have also criticised the investigation on some of the riot cases, with a Delhi court on Thursday observed that when history will look back at the worst communal riots since partition in Delhi, “it is the failure of [the] investigating agency to conduct a proper investigation by using the latest scientific methods that will surely torment the sentinels of democracy”.