A Delhi court has said there are no allegations in the chargesheet against former Congress councillor Ishrat Jahan that she was physically present during the riots that took place in the national Capital in 2020.
Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat made the statement on Monday in his order granting bail to Jahan in an Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act case related to the Delhi riots. She has been in custody since February 26, 2020.
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.
The 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 at several places across Delhi.
In its bail order on Monday, the court also said that Jahan was not part of the any WhatsApp groups that played a large role in the alleged conspiracy.
“She not a member of Muslims Students of JNU [Jawaharlal Nehru University] or Jamia Coordination Committee or any of the four WhatsApp groups created by JCC, or Pinjra Tod, or Students of Jamia or Alumnai Association of Jamia Milia, or DPSG [Delhi Protest Support Group],” the order said. “It is also not the case of the prosecution that she attended any meetings called by any of these organisations.”
The order observed that even though it has been shown that Jahan was present with other accused persons in the riots at Khajuri Khas area at the same time, the connectivity between them “ranges from high to low”.
“Even if it is accepted that she had connectivity with the other accused persons, yet the fact remains that she was neither physically present in North-East Delhi for riots nor was she was part of any group, organisation or WhatsApp groups or her name cropped up in flurry of calls or in any CCTV footage or in any of the conspiratorial meetings on 23.01.2020, 16.17.02.2020, 22.02.2020 or 23.02.2020,” the order read.
The court said that based on the chargesheet, there was a “premeditated conspiracy of the disruptive chakka-jam [road blockades] and a preplanned protest at 23 different planned sites in Delhi which was to escalate to confrontational chakka-jam and incitement to violence and resulting in riots”.
The judge, however, said that the chargesheet and witness statements show that it was not Jahan who proposed the idea of putting up the road blockades.
The court also noted that Jahan was involved in the protests at Khajuri Khas, one of the demonstration sites in Delhi against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the National Register of Citizens. But it said that the spot is not located in North East Delhi, where the riots took place.
The order said that the prosecution had argued that North East Delhi was blocked from all sides to cut off essential supplies to the region, areas with mixed population were targeted and police officers were attacked. “However, this thing did not happen at Khujeri,” the order said.
On Monday, Jahan’s lawyer Pradeep Teotia said that there are no more pending cases against her. She is expected to be released after bail formalities are completed by Tuesday.
The police had also accused her of convincing a crowd to stay at an anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protest site in Delhi. Jahan was granted bail in that case on March 21, 2020. However, she was arrested on the same day in the UAPA case.