Jawaharlal Nehru University student Sharjeel Imam was arrested after he surrendered to Delhi Police at his native village in Bihar’s Jehanabad district on Tuesday. Since the first sedition case was filed against Imam in Assam, four more states have charged him with sedition.
“I have surrendered to the Delhi Police on 28.1.2020 at 3 pm,” Imam tweeted. “I am ready and willing to operate with the investigation. I have full faith in due process of law. My safety and security are now in the hand[s] of Delhi Police. Let peace prevail.”
The scholar will be taken to “Delhi for production before the magistrate”, his lawyer said in a statement, according to India Today. “He has full faith in the legal system and is fully cooperating with the investigation.”
However, Delhi Police refuted Imam’s claim that he surrendered to the police, saying an accused can only do so in a court. The JNU student was presented in a court in Jehanabad in the evening, ANI reported.
Earlier in the day, a brother of Imam was detained by police, PTI reported. A joint team of Delhi, Aligarh and Bihar Police had raided Imam’s ancestral house on Sunday night too, but he was not found there. On Monday, the Delhi Police deployed five teams of the Crime Branch, and raids were conducted in Mumbai, Patna and Delhi.
Imam, a PhD scholar, is under fire for remarks he allegedly made at Aligarh Muslim University on January 16. In a clip on social media, Imam was purportedly heard telling protestors to “cut off Assam from India” by occupying the “Muslim-dominated Chicken’s Neck”. The comment was widely perceived as a secessionist one, but Imam later claimed that he had called for peaceful protests to “block roads going to Assam” – “basically a call for chakka jam”.
The Siliguri Corridor, also known as Chicken’s Neck, in West Bengal connects the North East to the rest of India.
The remarks led to sedition cases being filed against Imam in Assam, Uttar Pradesh,Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Delhi. The charges include offences under the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.
With reports linking him to the ongoing Shaheen Bagh protest in Delhi against the Citizenship Amendment Act, Imam also became a target of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s election rhetoric ahead of the Delhi Assembly polls. However, in a statement on Saturday, the Shaheen Bagh protestors reiterated that the demonstration was not organised by one person.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar told reporters soon after the arrest: “Protests are one thing, but nobody can talk about country’s disintegration...Police must have acted according to law for wrongdoing.”