Defending a trial court’s decision to discharge him in the 2019 Jamia case, activist Sharjeel Imam told the Delhi High Court on Thursday that he is a “victim of violence” and not the one who committed any offence, reported The Indian Express.
Imam made the statement in a written submission on a petition by the Delhi Police challenging the trial court order acquitting him and 10 others.
Violence had erupted at the Jamia Millia Islamia campus on December 15, 2019, during student protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. The Delhi Police was accused of barging into the university campus and using excessive force to quell the demonstrations. The police had claimed their action was justified as the protestors had allegedly injured their personnel and set buses on fire.
In his submission, Imam argued that his glasses being broken during the violence at a peaceful protest in Jamia Millia Islamia does not mean he participated in the violence.
“It merely shows that he was a victim of the violence and had no active role to play in its culmination,” the submission said.
Imam also told the court that he was neither seen in any of the videos cited as evidence by the prosecution nor there was any statement recorded by the police that names him or attributes any role to him in the violence.
“Further, neither the name of the answering respondent [Imam] gets a mention in any of the disclosure statements given by the co-respondents, nor any evidence showing any connectivity between the answering respondent and the others have been adduced to fasten liability through section 120B [criminal conspiracy] of the IPC [Indian Penal Code],” Imam said.
The activist also argued that shouting slogans in favour of a particular means of peaceful protest does not amount to participation in the violence, reported PTI.
“In his speech at AMU [Aligarh Muslim Universit] on 16.12.2019, the answering respondent merely stated that he campaigned in favour of chakka jam as a means of protest, which by no stretch of the imagination could be called a violent method of protest,” he said.
At the Aligarh Muslim University, Iman had purportedly asked protestors to “cut off Assam from India” by occupying the “Muslim-dominated Chicken’s Neck”. The comment was widely perceived as secessionist and he was booked in several cases, but Imam later claimed that he had called for peaceful protests to “block roads going to Assam” – “basically a call for chakka jam”.
On Thursday, Imam also submmitted that his call data records show that he had left the place before things turned violent in the Jamia Millia University.
“[Imam] only campaigned in favour of a means of peaceful protest, not violence,” the activist submitted.
Trail court order
On February 4, additional sessions judge of Saket court Arul Varma in his order had said that the Delhi Police roped in Imam and others as scapegoats and were unable to apprehend the actual perpetrators of the offence. The judge had also added that there was no prima facie evidence that the accused persons were part of the mob violence, had any weapons or were throwing stones.
The court had said that the liberty of protesting citizens should not have been lightly interfered with. “It would be pertinent to underscore that dissent is nothing but an extension of invaluable fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression...,” the order added.
The other persons who have been discharged from the case are Asif Iqbal Tanha, Safoora Zargar, Mohammed Abuzar, Umair Ahmad, Mohammed Shoaib, Mahmood Anwar, Mohammed Qasim, Mohammed Bilal Nadeem, Shahzar Raza Khan and Chanda Yadav.
The court had, however, directed filing charges against one of the accused persons, Mohammed Ilyas. He faces allegations pertaining to rioting, attempts to commit culpable homicide and criminal conspiracy in the matter.
The Delhi Police then moved the High Court against the acquittal order, alleging that the trial court was “swayed by motions and sentimental feelings” while making the decision. The Delhi Police also said that the trial court raised aspersions and passed “gravely prejudicial and adverse remarks” against its investigation.
But the High Court refused to expunge the remarks made by the trail court about the Delhi Police.