Activist Sharjeel Imam was on Monday denied bail by a Delhi court in a larger conspiracy case related to the violence that broke out in the national Capital in February 2020, reported Bar and Bench.
Imam was charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 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 had accused him of sedition.
On January 26, a court in the city had cited a chargesheet against Imam and said that the violence in parts of Delhi was a result of his speeches.
The 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 Delhi Police claim that the violence was part of a larger conspiracy to defame Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government and was planned by those who had organised the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act. They also claim the protestors had secessionist motives and were using “the facade of civil disobedience” to destabilise the government.
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”.
During the bail hearings, Imam’s lawyer Tanveer Ahemd Mir had argued that if the activist had surrendered before the Delhi riots took place, then how could he be arrested for a larger conspiracy related to the violence. Imam was arrested on January 28, 2019, over a year before the Delhi violence had taken place.
“We cannot afford to have a system where conspiracies become endless and are rendered in perpetuity,” Mir had said.
Mir had also asked the court how a call for chakka jam amounts to conspiracy. The lawyer had argued that every time such cases are sustained, the right to protest recognised by the Supreme Court was inevitably being killed.
Opposing Imam’s bail, Special Public Prosecutor Amit Prasad had argued that Imam was not arrested for the conspiracy but for his “seditious speech”.
“So to say arrest is for conspiracy is a misdirected argument,” he had said.