Activist Sharjeel Imam’s speech at Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia University in 2019, during protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, was divisive, the police told a court in the city on Wednesday, The Times of India reported.
The Act, passed by the Narendra Modi-led government in 2019, was widely criticised as it introduced religious criteria for Indian citizenship for the first time.
Imam had been charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in April last year for his allegedly inflammatory speeches at Jamia as well as the Aligarh Muslim University in Uttar Pradesh. Three months later, the police accused him of sedition. He is presently in Tihar Jail.
On Wednesday, Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat heard Imam’s petition for bail in the UAPA and sedition cases.
Special Public Prosecutor Amit Prasad said Iman opened his speech at Jamia Millia Islamia with the traditional Muslim salutation “Assalamu-alaikum”, which showed that “his address is to a particular community”, The Indian Express reported.
Prasad claimed: “His speech was definitely divisive. He is attempting to create complete anarchy.”
The lawyer also read out the speech Imam made at the Aligarh Muslim University. “When BJP got a full majority, then we got triple talaq, CAA and NRC,” Prasad quoted Imam as saying, according to the newspaper.
“We must keep in mind that this accused is somebody who has done his thesis on rioting and, therefore, has knowledge as to how a critical mass can come together and how things can be done from them,” the lawyer claimed.
At Aligarh Muslim University, Iman had also purportedly asked protestors to “cut off Assam from India” by occupying the “Muslim-dominated Chicken’s Neck”.
The comment was widely perceived as secessionist, but Imam later claimed that he had called for peaceful protests to “block roads going to Assam” – “basically a call for chakka jam”.
Apart from Delhi, the police in Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh had filed cases against Iman for the purported comments.
On Wednesday, Prasad alleged that with some other speeches, Imam tried to instill a sense of hopelessness in Muslims citizens, Live Law reported.
“He has made it abundantly clear that CAA or NRC is not the issue,” Prasad claimed. “Issues were triple talaq, Kashmir for which the mobilisation was happening. “Also in past speeches, he has given a clear indication that everything is over, as Muslims have no hope.”