The Delhi Police on Wednesday charged Jawaharlal Nehru University student Sharjeel Imam under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in connection with protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act near Jamia Millia Islamia University in December last year, PTI reported.
The amended UAPA allows the government to proscribe individuals as terrorists and empowers more officers of the National Investigation Agency to probe cases. A person charged under the act can be jailed for up to seven years.
The police had earlier charged Imam with sedition, accusing him of promoting enmity between groups and instigating riots. He is in police custody.
Imam’s lawyer Ahmad Ibrahim said they will take appropriate legal action in the matter. “The police has added UAPA provisions on the 88th day [of arrest] with the intention of keeping him jail for a longer time,” he said, according to Hindustan Times.
Delhi Police spokesperson Anil Mittal said that Imam was arrested in connection with violence at Jamia on December 13 and 15, 2019, for “instigating and abetting the Jamia riots, due to his seditious speech on December 13”.
“Based on evidence collected, Sections 124A [sedition] and 153A [promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth] of the Indian Penal Code were also invoked,” the spokesperson added, according to PTI.
On February 18, the Delhi Police had filed a chargesheet in connection with the December 15 violence at Jamia Millia Islamia University and named Imam as an “instigator”.
The Delhi Police said that the violence began “in consequence” to an anti-Citizenship Act protest march organised by Jamia students in Delhi’s New Friends Colony and outside the university in December. “The mob indulged in large-scale rioting, stone-pelting and arson, and in the process destroyed many public and private properties,” the police statement read.
Cases of arson, vandalism and rioting were registered in two police stations, the statement noted, adding that many police officers and people were injured in the alleged rioting.
Imam 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 secessionist, but Imam later claimed that he had called for peaceful protests to “block roads going to Assam” – “basically a call for chakka jam”.