A court in Delhi on Friday rejected the bail petition of suspended Aam Aadmi Party councillor Tahir Hussain in the murder case of Intelligence Bureau officer Ankit Sharma during the communal violence in the city in February, PTI reported.

Over 50 people lost their lives in the violence. Sharma’s body was found in a drain in Chand Bagh locality. He was returning home on February 25 when he was allegedly stoned and beaten to death. The Aam Aadmi Party had first defended Hussain but later suspended him. He has been in judicial custody since March and charged under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

Additional Sessions Judge Vinod Yadav said that a “powerful person” like Hussain can threaten witnesses or tamper evidence in the case if given bail.

“At this stage, I find that there is enough material on record to presume that the applicant was very well present at the spot of crime and was exhorting the rioters of a particular community and as such, he did not use his hands and fists, but rioters as ‘human weapons’, who on his instigation could have killed anybody,” the judge added. “In this case, it is apparent that witnesses, whose statements have been recorded are residents of the same locality and they can easily be threatened by a powerful person like the applicant [Hussain].”

Yadav said that the order was based upon prima facie analysis of material available on record at the current stage. “I find that the riots in the area of North East Delhi were carried out in an organised manner and as part of deep-rooted conspiracy and the involvement of applicant is being investigated upon with regard to his connection with members of Popular Front of India, Pinjra Tod, Jamia Coordination Committee, United Against Hate Group and the Citizenship Amendment Act protestors,” he added. “That is, however, subject matter of another FIR as well as the proceedings being conducted by Enforcement Directorate.”

The court also said that two persons in their statements to the Crime Branch have alleged that the violence was planned at Hussain’s residence on February 24. It stated that other accused in the case have to be apprehended.

Advocate KK Manan and Uditi Bali, representing Sharma, sought bail on the grounds that there was no cogent evidence to connect him to the alleged murder of Sharma. “There was delay in recording the statements of the witnesses,” the counsel said. “There is no evidence by way of video footage or CCTV footage to prove that Hussain was present at the scene of crime at the time of incident.”

The judge, meanwhile, said that there was enough ocular evidence available on record to establish that Hussain was present at the site.

Special Public Prosecutor Manoj Chaudhary, appearing for the state, alleged that the accused had killed Sharma on Hussain’s instigation. He further claimed that the suspended AAP councillor had provided stones, acid bottles, swords, fire arms, among other things to the accused.

Last month, the chargesheet filed by the Delhi Police had said that Sharma was stabbed 51 times and was “specifically targeted” by the mob that Hussain had allegedly provoked. The police said there was “deep-rooted conspiracy” behind the violence and Sharma’s murder. The police had alleged that Hussain had spent Rs 1.10 crore to fund protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the clashes that followed.