Activist Umar Khalid’s counsel told a Delhi court on Friday that the police’s chargesheet in the Delhi riots conspiracy case reads like a “9 pm news script of one of those shouting news channels”, Live Law reported.
Senior advocate Trideep Pais made the submission during a hearing of Khalid’s bail petition in a case related to the large-scale communal violence that took place in Delhi in February 2020.
Clashes had broken out between the supporters of the Citizenship Amendment Act and those opposing it between February 23 and February 26, 2020, in North East Delhi, claiming 53 lives and injuring hundreds.
The Act, passed in 2019, introduced religious criteria for Indian citizenship for the first time. Critics said it discriminated against Muslims.
In multiple chargesheets related to the Delhi riots, the police claimed that the violence was part of a larger conspiracy to defame Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government. They alleged that it was planned by those who organised protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act.
The police arrested several activists and students based on these charges. Among them was Khalid, who was charged under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act last year.
The Delhi Police alleged that Khalid had made two speeches that instigated protestors to block roads in the city in February 2020, during the visit of Donald Trump, who was then the president of the United States.
They filed a chargesheet against Khalid and student activists Sharjeel Imam and Faizan Khan in November.
During Friday’s hearing, Khalid lawyer pointed out that the police used phrases like “veteran of sedition” for Khalid in their chargesheet.
“Is this how chargesheets are written?” Pais asked, according to Live Law. “It seems like a script of some news channel. Where did they get this from?”
Khalid’s lawyer added: “This reads like a 9 PM news script like those shouting news channels. Those news channels say anything they want. They want to give a slant, they will give it. Absolutely no responsibility.”
Pais claimed the police tried to create an impression that protests against the citizenship law were being led only by a particular community.
“Of course there’s a nationwide protest against CAA,” Pais submitted on Khalid’s behalf, according to Live Law. “Which statement establishes that everything was identifiable from a particular community? No! It was a secular protest.”
Pais also compared the police’s chargesheet in the case to the script of ‘The Family Man’, an Amazon Prime series. The show has been criticised for representing Muslims in a stereotypical way.
“Please understand, he [the police] is not writing the script of ‘Family Man’,” Pais said, according to Live Law. “He is writing a chargesheet.”
The lawyer added: “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.”
During the last hearing in the case on August 23, Pais had argued that the police relied on a trimmed video clip tweeted by Bharatiya Janata Party leader Amit Malviya and aired by news channels for its FIR against Khalid.
“Clearly the Delhi police had nothing except Republic TV and News18,” Pais had said.