A court in Delhi on Thursday rejected activist Umar Khalid’s bail plea in a case alleging larger conspiracy into the communal violence that erupted in the national Capital in February 2020, Bar and Bench reported.

Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat, who pronounced the order, said that allegations against Khalid in the chargesheet appear to be prima facie true.

In a 61-page bail order, Justice Rawat referred to several arguments by Khalid’s lawyer, Trideep Pais, and Special Public Prosecutor Amit Prasad.

On the argument posed by Khalid’s lawyer Trideep Pais that the activist was not present in Delhi when the violence took place, the court held that in a case of conspiracy, it was not necessary for an accused person to be present at the spot.

The court also dismissed Pais’ argument that Khalid’s bent of mind can be assessed from the fact that he had done his doctoral thesis on the Adivasis of Jharkhand.

“If the bent of mind is to be assessed in this manner, then the co­-accused Sharjeel Imam has written thesis on riots,” Justice Rawat said in his order. “A bail application must be decided on facts presented in charge­sheet.”

In the order, the court also mentioned about allegations that Khalid was part of WhatsApp groups that allegedly incited violence.

“The fact that he [Khalid] was part of such groups created for specific objects and his acts or presence throughout the period beginning from the passing of the CAB Bill in December 2019 till the February 2020 riots, as mentioned above, has to be read in totality and not piecemeal,” the court said. “He has connectivity with many accused persons.”

Khalid’s bail application was pending before Justice Rawat for nearly eight months. The court had also thrice deferred his bail order. It was originally set to be pronounced on March 14, but was postponed due to late submission of written arguments by both the parties.

Khalid was arrested on September 14, 2020, along with several other activists after clashes broke out between the supporters of the Citizenship Amendment Act and those opposing the law in North East Delhi between February 23 and February 26 of that year.

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. She was granted bail in June 2020 on humanitarian grounds, while Haider remains in custody.

Arguments in the case

According to the police, Khalid made provocative speeches at two protest sites and had appealed to the people of Delhi to hold demonstrations in the streets during former United States President Donald Trump’s visit to India, which had coincided with the violence in the national Capital.

The police also alleged that the activist aimed to spread “propaganda at the global level” about how religious minorities in India were being mistreated.

The activist, the prosecution, claimed was part of a conspiracy whose main objective was to “bring the government to its knees”. Special Public Prosecutor Amit Prasad had told the court, “The ultimate object of rioters was to undermine the authority of the government which enacted the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and to destabilise the democracy.”

Prasad had also claimed that all the 25 sites where protests against the citizenship law took place in Delhi were chosen because they were closer to mosques and were “purposefully given secular names”.

On the other hand, Khalid claimed that the police cited “cooked up statements” from witnesses in the case related to the alleged conspiracy behind the violence.

On November 2, his lawyer Trideep Pais referred to a witness statement in which it was claimed that Khalid paid women to participate in protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and was a member of the Jamia Coordination Committee.

The lawyer had questioned why the witness was not an accused in the case if he was present at the meeting. He had also said that the allegations against Khalid were the product of the “fertile imagination” of the investigation officer.

At an earlier hearing of the case on October 12, Khalid had asked if forming a WhatsApp group of Muslim students amounted to terrorism. He added that there were no witnesses to show that he had formed the WhatsApp group.

Pais had also claimed that the statements of witnesses cited in the chargesheet were made up. The police had filed an over 17,000-page chargesheet in the case in September 2020.

Scroll.in’s complete coverage of the Delhi violence can be read here.