If activist Sharjeel Imam had surrendered before the 2020 North East Delhi riots took place, then how could he be arrested for a larger conspiracy related to the violence, Imam’s counsel asked a court in the Capital on Thursday according to Live Law.

Imam’s counsel Tanveer Ahmed Mir posed the question while arguing for bail. He pointed out that Imam was arrested on January 28, 2019, whereas the North East Delhi riots took place on February 23, 2020.

“We cannot afford to have a system where conspiracies become endless and are rendered in perpetuity,” Mir said.

Imam was charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, or UAPA, in April 2020 for his allegedly inflammatory speeches at Jamia Millia Islamia University as well as the Aligarh Muslim University in Uttar Pradesh. Three months later, the police accused him of sedition.

On January 26, a court in the national Capital had cited a chargesheet against Imam said that the violence in parts of Delhi was a result of his speeches.

On Thursday, Imam’s lawyer asked how the court taking cognisance of sedition and UAPA charges could be sustained in the Delhi riots conspiracy case, reported The Indian Express.

“Your honour have prima facie my speeches as seditious, but it didn’t find out that I advocated for violence,” Mir said, representing Imam. He added that the public prosecutor needed to show whose murder Imam conspired for.

In his speeches, Imam had purportedly asked the 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”.

Mir asked the court how a call for chakka jam amounted to conspiracy for riots. The lawyer argued that every time such cases are sustained, the right to protest recognised by the Supreme Court is “inevitably” being killed.

Opposing Imam’s bail, Special Public Prosecutor Amit Prasad referred to events from December 2019 to show Imam’s alleged involvement in the alleged conspiracy, according to Live Law. Prasad claimed that chats on WhatsApp groups indicated Imam’s involvement in the “larger conspiracy”.