Activist Khalid Saifi on Friday remarked before a Delhi court that he would have to stop saying “salaam” if it was made illegal, Live Law reported.
Saifi, who is an accused in a case related to the February 2020 Delhi violence, was referring to an argument by Special Public Prosecutor Amit Prasad in response to a bail petition by activist Sharjeel Imam, who has been jailed in a separate case related to protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act.
On September 2, Prasad had contended that Imam began his 2019 speech at an event in Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia to protest the citizenship law with the traditional Muslim salutation “assalamu-alaikum”, which showed that “his address is to a particular community”.
Saifi, the founder of a civil society organisation called United Against Hate, alluded to this argument when he was produced before Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat. “I always greet my friends with salaam,” he said. “I think I’ll have to stop it in case it is illegal.”
The judge, however, noted that the remark was made by the prosecution, and not the court, according to Bar and Bench.
Saifi further said that whenever he gets bail, he will file a case in the National Green Tribunal against the Delhi Police for wasting 2 million pieces of paper on the chargesheet pertaining to the February 2020 violence, PTI reported.
Between February 23 and February 26 last year, clashes had broken out between supporters of the Citizenship Amendment Act and those opposing it in North East Delhi, claiming 53 lives and injuring hundreds. Most of those killed are Muslims.
Saifi, along with activists Umar Khalid, Natasha Narwal, Devangana Kalita and Asif Iqbal Tanha, faces charges under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act in connection with the violence. He has also been charged under sections of the Arms Act, Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act and the Indian Penal Code.
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 the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act in several places across Delhi.
On September 7, a Delhi court had expressed its displeasure at the police’s “lackadaisical attitude” in investigating cases related to the violence.
The Delhi Police has been criticised by courts several times for the flaws in their investigation of the cases related to the riots.
On September 3, Additional Sessions Judge Vinod Yadav had said that the police had failed to conduct a fair investigation in riots cases and to ensure that the victims get justice.
The judge had added: “I am not able to restrain myself from observing that when history will look back at the worst communal riots since partition in Delhi, it is the failure of investigating agency to conduct proper investigation by using latest scientific methods, will surely torment the sentinels of democracy.”