New Delhi: A day after sedition charges were slapped against Sharjeel Imam, activist and PhD student at JNU, by the Assam and Uttar Pradesh police, fresh charges under the same offence were issued against him in Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Delhi, according to a report in the Indian Express.
The Assam and Uttar Pradesh police filed sedition cases against Imam for a speech that he had made against the Citizenship Amendment Act at Aligarh Muslim University on January 16. The Assam police have also filed an FIR against Imam under the anti-terror law UAPA.
UP and Delhi police have started conducting searches in different areas of Delhi to trace Imam. “We are working closely with Delhi Police and should be able to find him soon,” said Aligarh SSP Akash Kulhary.
The Delhi police have also sent a team to Bihar to search for Imam at his village Kako. Imam’s three relatives were detained for about four hours and released, sources told PTI.
The police also carried out a raid at Imam’s ancestral house in Jehanabad late on Sunday night after “help sought by central agencies” which are investigating the cases lodged against the JNU scholar, said Manish Kumar, the Superintendent of Police, Jehanabad.
While Imam was not found at his house, two of his relatives and their driver were detained for interrogation and let off thereafter. Imam’s late father Akbar Imam was a local JD(U) leader who had unsuccessfully contested an assembly election in his lifetime.
In the speech in question, Imam told the crowd that no political formation had ever stood with Muslims and believing that the constitution would emancipate Muslims was “a suicidal thought”, and that they must “use the anger productively”.
“If we have five lakh people with us, we can cut off the Northeast from India. If not permanently, for one or two months. Put rubble on tracks and roads…. Assam aur India katke alag ho jaaye, tabhi ye humari baat sunenge (Once Assam is cut off, then only they will listen to us)… We can do that because the Chicken’s Neck corridor (connecting Northeast to rest of India) is dominated by Muslims.”
Imam has since clarified that he was only calling for the blockade of roads. “I was saying we should try to peacefully block roads wherever possible. In that context, I said you have to block roads going to Assam. It was basically a call for chakka jam,” he told the Sunday Express.
Imam, a PhD in Modern Indian History at JNU, studied computer science at IIT-Bombay before. Imam had also been briefly associated with protests at Shaheen Bagh before he falsely declared that the protest had been called off because certain vested political interests were trying to hijack it.
Imam’s mother has since released a statement to the media alleging that the police were threatening and harassing her family. “Sharjeel Imam is being victimised for a statement that was twisted and taken out of context by the media. However, the police and state authorities, against whose highhandedness Sharjeel protested, are now harassing and threatening his family members,” Afshan Rahim, Imam’s mother, said in the statement dated January 26.
Rahim also told the media that her son was innocent. “He is a bright young man and not a thief or a pickpocket. I swear in the name of God that I do not know about his whereabouts.”
“He was calling for a ‘chakkajam‘ (road blockade). He is just a kid and not capable of instigating people for secession,” she added.
On Saturday, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra that Imam’s speech was “a classic case of jihad” and that “a conspiracy was brewing at Shaheen Bagh to end India’s Independence”.
Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had called Imam “the main organiser of the Shaheen Bagh protests” and alleged that the agitation at Shaheen Bagh had been caused by members of a community “who want to destroy India, create another Pakistan out of India”.
Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Pema Khandu said that such a provocation would hamper the “sovereignty and territorial integrity of India”.
This kind of provocation inciting secession of Assam & other NEstates from rest of India, creating communal disharmony, hampering severeignty & territorial Integrity of India will not be tolerated.
Crime branch Itanagar have registered Case no.2/2020 U/S124(A)/153(A)153(B) IPC https://t.co/YNJR7MepPS
— Pema Khandu (@PemaKhanduBJP) January 26, 2020
Manipur chief minister M.N. Biren Singh said that the Manipur police had filed an FIR against Imam under for threatening to “sever Northeast from the rest of country”.
Alumni from JNU’s Centre for Historical Studies, where Imam studied, have released a statement saying:
“Some TV channels are reporting that a JNU alumnus, Sharjeel Imam, said that the present anti-CAA movement is capable of permanently or temporarily cutting off the Northeast from India. The purpose of the legitimate, democratic, protests is exactly the opposite: to keep India socially and territorially a beautiful, harmonious nation. We, the students and alumni of Centre for Historical Studies, where Imam studied, reject with all contempt his alleged statement that calls for India to be dismembered.”
(With inputs from PTI)