Delhi violence: Police attempting to communalise the narrative, jailed activist tells court
Activist Khalid Saifi’s counsel told the court that the police evidence was based on ‘conjectures and surmises’.
Jailed activist Khalid Saifi on Wednesday told a Delhi court that police were attempting to communalise the narrative of the 2020 riots in the national Capital, PTI reported.
The submission was made by Saifi’s counsel, Rebecca John, before Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat during the activist’s bail hearing. Rawat has reserved the order on the bail application.
Saifi has been charged under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, the Arms Act, the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act and the Indian Penal Code in connection 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.
Police claim that the violence was part of a larger conspiracy to defame Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government. They have also alleged that it was planned by those who organised the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act in several places across Delhi.
During Wednesday’s hearing, Saifi’s counsel, John, told the court that the evidence produced by the Delhi Police was based on “conjectures and surmises” and did not add up, PTI reported.
She also refuted the allegations that the protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act was communal and not organic.
“Let us assume, even if it was not organic,” she said. “Protests are organised. So what? [The] Prosecution has sought to communalise this case. One community [was] affected by this Bill [Citizenship Amendment Act]. It is their right to protest.”
She asked the prosecution to not lay the narrative on one community and brush aside the actions of the Delhi Police.
John added that allegations against Saifi that he attended a protest Jantar Mantar did not hold weight, The Indian Express reported.
“Jantar Mantar was a protest site opened for the public, nothing secretive about it,” she said. “Since times immemorial, people have gone there to air their grievances.”
She also referred to the prosecution’s submission of messages on WhatsApp’s Delhi Protest Support Group about the planning of the protest.
“How this incriminates me beats my reasoning or imagination,” she said while reading out the messages, according to PTI. “The message only says that the police have not been able to control riots and there should be accountability. Even if I have asked the Chief Minister to hold a press conference, that’s within my rights as an Indian citizen.”
John added that there was no proof of Saifi meeting activist Umar Khalid, another accused in the case who is in jail, as pointed out by the prosecution.
“Assume that’s true, even then that’s not evidence of any robust kind which can corroborate their story of conspiracy,” she added.