All the 25 sites where protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act took place in Delhi were chosen because they were closer to mosques and were “purposefully given secular names”, the prosecution claimed on Monday while opposing the bail plea of activist Umar Khalid in a Delhi riots case, reported The Indian Express.

Special Public Prosecutor Amit Prasad also gave examples to support his argument.

“Shreeram colony protest site was actually Noorani Masjid protest,” Prasad told the court. “Sadar Bazar protest site was Shahi Idgaah. Shastri Park protest site was actually Wahid Jama Masjid. Gandhi Park protest site was actually Jamila Masjid. All 25 protests sites I have pointed out are in close vicinity of masjids. That is the identification of these protest sites.”

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 in connection with the Delhi violence case.

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.

During Monday’s hearing, Prasad argued that the organisers of the protest sites wanted to create ground work for round-the-clock sit-in demonstrations.

“They spread misinformation and instigated the Muslim community to join the protests, including women and children,” he argued, according to The Indian Express.

The special public prosecutor also alleged that there was a “public perception” that Khalid was an atheist as he was studying at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, which “vouches for being secular”.

“Then why did you join a Muslim group [Muslim Students of JNU]?” Prasad asked. “You portray yourself as something else for public knowledge.”

He also compared the violence during the anti-CAA protests in 2019 with the Delhi riots. In December 2019, violence had broken out in Delhi’s Jamia Nagar area after those protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act had clashed with the police.

Prasad claimed that every person involved in the anti-CAA protests was found to be connected with the Delhi riots too. “Difference between 2019 and 2020 is Jamia and Shaheen Bagh were deliberately avoided and women were used as forefront to make it look like rightful dissent in 2020,” he alleged.

On Monday, Prasad also alleged that “Northeast Delhi [was] chosen for its social, economic matrix for mass-scale violence”.

Prasad will continue with his arguments on January 28.

In the earlier hearing on January 11, the special public prosecutor had argued that the Delhi riots were “clearly a criminal conspiracy” aimed at bringing the government “to its knees”.

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

In the November hearings, Khalid’s lawyer Trideep Pais had argued that the allegations against his client 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.”

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

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