The police on Wednesday attempted to interrogate Delhi Minorities Commission ChairpersonZafarul Islam Khan at his residence in connection with a case against him for allegedly making provocative statements on social media, reported The Hindu. This came nearly a week after Khan was charged with sedition after he thanked Kuwait for “standing with Indian Muslims” in context of the large-scale communal violence in North East Delhi.
On April 28, Khan tweeted: “Thank you Kuwait for standing with the Indian Muslims! The Hindutva bigots calculated that Muslim and Arab world will not care about the persecution of Muslims in India. The bigots forgot that Indian Muslims enjoy huge goodwill in the eyes of the Arab and Muslim world for their services over centuries to Islamic causes...”
In his tweet, the minorities panel chief had also praised controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, claiming he was a “respected household name in the Arab and Muslim world”. Khan later apologised for his “ill-timed” and “insensitive” comments in view of the coronavirus crisis but said that he stood by them.
The police team that visited Khan’s house on Wednesday faced stiff opposition from several people including Aam Aadmi Party MLA Amanatullah Khan. Following this, the officials were forced to leave but said they will serve a notice to Zafarul Khan, asking him to join the investigation.
However, Khan’s counsel Vrinda Grover pointed out in a statement that the minorities panel chief cannot be forced to go to the police station as he was at risk of being infected with the coronavirus. “Section 160 of the CrPC [Code of Criminal Procedure] mandates that the police cannot compel attendance of a person above 65 years age at any place other than their residence for the purpose of investigation and interrogation,” Grover said.
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Khan has also written to the Delhi Police, highlighting his vulnerability to the coronavirus, and noted that he cannot be compelled to go to the police station for questioning.
The case against Khan has been registered under sections 124A and 153A of the Indian Penal Code. Section 124A pertains to sedition and 153A deals with acts promoting enmity between different groups on the basis of religion, race or place of birth, among other charges.
Clashes had broken out between the supporters of the Citizenship Amendment Act and those opposing it between February 23 and February 26 in North East Delhi, killing at least 53 people and injuring hundreds.