A PhD student at the Jamia Millia Islamia University was arrested on Wednesday for allegedly conspiring to incite large-scale communal violence in Delhi in February, PTI reported.

Meeran Haider, who is also the president of the Rashtriya Janata Dal youth wing’s Delhi unit, had been questioned by the Delhi Police police’s special cell before being arrested on Wednesday, officials told the news agency.

The Jamia Coordination Committee – a group of students and alumni from the university – demanded his release and said the students were being harassed even in the times of a massive health crisis in the country. “The country is facing a massive health crisis, however, the state machinery is busy harassing and framing student activists in false cases to suppress voices of dissent,” they said. The committee said that Haider had been working to provide food and other supplies to the poor amid the lockdown and the charges against him were baseless.

Condemning Haider’s arrest, RJD’s Bihar youth president Qari Sohaib said he was a social worker and had been actively helping people amid the lockdown. “He has been actively doing what the state is supposed to do.. helping the poor and destitute during unplanned lockdown,” Sohaib wrote on Twitter. “Delhi Police cannot stifle the young voice of social workers like Meeran.”

Clashes had broken out between the supporters of the Citizenship Amendment Act and those opposed to it between February 23 and 26 in North East Delhi, killing 53 people and injuring hundreds. The police were accused of either inaction or complicity in some instances of violence, mostly in Muslim neighbourhoods. The violence was the worst Delhi saw since the anti-Sikh violence of 1984.

Hate speech by leaders of the Bharatiya Jananta Party had been blamed for the large-scale violence. Just hours before violence broke out, BJP leader Kapil Mishra had warned police that they must clear an anti-CAA protesters from Jaffrabad and Chand Bagh areas in three days.