Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Monday once again attacked the Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi for expressing support for the Shaheen Bagh protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act. Addressing an election rally, Shah dared Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to visit the site of the protest. He also asked whether Kejriwal was in favour of arresting Jawaharlal Nehru University student Sharjeel Imam, PTI reported.
Imam, a PhD scholar, is facing sedition cases in five states, including Delhi, for remarks he allegedly made at Aligarh Muslim University on January 16. In a video shared on social media, a person believed to be Imam is heard telling protestors to “cut off Assam from India” by occupying the “Muslim-dominated Chicken’s Neck”. The Siliguri Corridor, also known as Chicken’s Neck, in West Bengal connects the North East to the rest of India. Imam has claimed that he had called for peaceful protests to “block roads going to Assam” – “basically a call for chakka jam”.
“I want to ask Kejriwal whether he is in favour of apprehending Sharjeel Imam or not,” Shah said at an election rally in Rithala locality ahead of the February 8 elections. “Whether you are with the people of Shaheen Bagh or not, please tell the people of Delhi.”
Imam was briefly associated with the protests at Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh locality, which has emerged as one of the main sites of popular resistance against the citizenship law and the proposed National Register of Citizens. The protests led by women in the locality has been going on for well over a month now.
“You [AAP leaders] people say that you are with Shaheen Bagh,” Shah added. “If you have the guts then go and sit with them. And let Delhi decide.”
Responding to this, Kejriwal asked Shah why the government has not yet arrested Imam for his statements. “Sharjeel talked about separating Assam from the country,” Kejriwal tweeted. “It is very serious. You are the country’s home minister. This statement of yours depicts petty politics. It is your duty to immediately arrest him. He made the statement two days back, why are you not arresting him? What is the compulsion or do you want to do more dirty politics on the matter?”
Since January 25, five states have charged Imam with sedition and other serious offences. These include offences under the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.