The Delhi Police on Monday alleged that speeches by several accused persons in the 2020 Delhi riots case were made to create a sense of fear among the Muslim population of the country, reported PTI.

The police made the submission to Delhi High Court bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Rajnish Bhatnagar while opposing the bail plea of activist Umar Khalid, who is one of the accused persons in a case of alleged larger conspiracy that fueled the riots.

Special Public Prosecutor Amit Prasad, appearing for the police, contended that speeches delivered by Khalid, and other activists like Sharjeel Imam and Khalid Saifi were all linked to each other and were part of the alleged conspiracy.

“When you talk about Babri Masjid or triple talaq, they relate to a religion,” Prasad said, according to Live Law. “But when you talk about Kashmir, it’s not an issue of religion, it’s an issue of national integration.”

Between February 23 and February 26, 2020, clashes had broken out between supporters of the Citizenship Amendment Act and those opposing it in North East Delhi, claiming 53 lives and injuring hundreds. Most of those killed were Muslims.

Khalid, arrested on September 14, 2020, is facing charges under the Unlawful (Activities) Prevention Act for allegedly hatching a conspiracy to fuel riots in North East Delhi in February 2020.

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.

Imam was booked on sedition charges after the police accused him of making inflammatory statements during protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the National Register of Citizens.

At Monday’s hearing, Prasad alleged that a speech made by Khalid in Maharashtra’s Amravati district in February 2020 was part of a “calculated move” as it raised matters specifically relating to the Muslim community, besides the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the National Register of Citizens, according to Live Law.

“It brings various points,” Prasad submitted. “One, Babri Masjid, two, triple talaq, three, Kashmir, four, Muslims are suppressed and five, CAA-NRC…[The] point that comes out is that your grievance is not against CAA-NRC, it is against Babri Masjid and Kashmir. This is a pattern.”

Prasad also alleged that the protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the National Register of Citizens in New Delhi were not organic in nature.

“There is contention raised that protest sites came on their own...It was not so...They were created,” he argued. “They were created [after] mobilizing people from various places. Each protest site is being managed and handled by people from Jamia [Millia Islamia University] and DPSG [Delhi Protest Support Group].”

Justice Mridul observed that there was an overlap in the allegations made against various accused persons and the roles attributed to them in the case, PTI reported. He then asked the counsel of those involved in the case to decide if the appeals of other co-accused persons should be heard separately or together.

The court will hear the matter on Tuesday next.

On last hearing

At the last hearing on Thursday, Khalid’s lawyer had told the Delhi High Court that mere being a member of WhatsApp groups does not make the activist criminally liable in the case when nothing objectionable has been attributed to him.

Senior Advocate Trideep Pais, appearing for Khalid, had said his client had remained silent in two such groups. In the remaining three groups, Pais said, that only four messages sent in the WhatsApp chats were attributed to Khalid. However, the messages neither incited nor called for riots, Pais had argued.

“The fact that I was part of two WhatsApp groups, out of five cited against me in which I remained silent, cannot make me criminally liable,” Khalid’s plea stated. “I am not saying there was anything criminal in those groups.”

Pais had said that Khalid was not the administrator of the groups, but merely a member.