The Delhi riots were “clearly a criminal conspiracy” aimed at bringing the government “to its knees”, a prosecution lawyer told an additional sessions court in the national Capital on Tuesday, reported Live Law. Special Public Prosecutor Amit Prasad made the arguments while opposing the bail plea of activist Umar Khalid case related to the riots.

Communal violence had broken out between the supporters of the Citizenship Amendment Act and those opposing the law in North East Delhi between February 23 and February 26, 2020. The violence claimed 53 lives and hundreds were injured. The majority of those killed were Muslims.

Khalid has been charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act along with two students of the city’s Jamia Millia Islamia University, Meeran Haider and Safoora Zargar.

At Tuesday’s hearing, Prasad claimed that the riots had been planned secretly, and were not a “spontaneous burst of violence”.

“There is a continuation after the crime and clear attempt to cover up,” he added.

The public prosecutor said contended that Delhi High Court too had noted that the violence had been planned. “There were 23 protest sites which were created,” Prasad said. “They were not organic in nature but meticulously planned in close proximity to masjids [mosques]. There were teams to give logistical support.”

Prasad said the ultimate aim was to “overawe government and undermine authority” and destabilise democracy. “Idea was to bring government to its knees and withdraw CAA [Citizenship Amendment Act],” he argued.

In their first information report, the police had alleged that Khalid made provocative speeches at two protest sites and had appealed to the people of Delhi to hold demonstrations in streets during former United States President Donald Trump’s visit to India. The Delhi violence had coincided with Trump’s visit.

Khalid’s aim was to spread “propaganda at the global level” about how religious minorities in India were being mistreated, the FIR stated.

Prasad also countered Khalid’s arguments on his bail plea. In earlier hearings, Khalid’s lawyer Trideep Pais had argued that the allegations against Khalid were the product of the “fertile imagination” of the investigation officer.

“This person is not an IO [investigating officer],” Pais had contended in November. “He is a scriptwriter. Literally, this is a novella the person has written.”

To this, Prasad on Tuesday claimed that there was no merit in Pais’ arguments.

“You want to create headlines,” said Prasad. “What happens with all this? You create a perception… Family Man [a web series Pais had mentioned in his arguments] is not related to riots… There is another show called Grahan which is based on 1984 riots. You want to refer to Family Man and [Trial of the] Chicago 7 since it is popular.”

Khalid’s lawyer had also contended that the Citizenship Amendment Act was secular in nature but the chargesheet filed against him was communal.

Prasad described this argument as an unfortunate one. “Investigating agency is not of a particular person but a state,” he said. “The first conviction in the Delhi riots case was of a Hindu.”

He was referring to the conviction of a man identified as Dinesh Yadav. In December, a Delhi court had convicted Yadav for being part of a mob that set a house on fire during the riots. Additional Sessions Judge Virender Bhat found Yadav guilty under sections 143 (member of an unlawful assembly), 147 (punishment for rioting), 148 (rioting armed with deadly weapon), 457 (house trespass), 392 (robbery), 436 (arson) of the Indian Penal Code.

The special public prosecutor will continue to argue his case on January 24 and 31, according to Bar and Bench.