Former Jawaharlal Nehru University student Umar Khalid was questioned by the Delhi Police Special Cell in connection with the large scale communal violence that broke out in the Capital in February, PTI reported on Saturday. His phone was reportedly seized for examination.
Joint Commissioner of Police (Special Cell) Neeraj Thakur confirmed that Khalid was questioned by his team at their office on Friday and that his cellphone was seized for investigation, according to the Hindustan Times. However, he refused to divulge any more details.
The former JNU student was reportedly questioned for over three hours. “He was questioned regarding the purported provocative speeches he had allegedly delivered at two different places before the visit of US President Donald Trump in February,” an unidentified senior official told the newspaper. “Khalid had allegedly appealed to the public to come out on streets and block the roads during Trump’s visit.”
Khalid’s name appeared in the chargesheet submitted by the police against suspended Aam Aadmi Party councillor Tahir Hussain, according to The Hindu. The chargesheet stated that on January 8, Hussain met Khalid and United Against Hate co-founder Khalid Saifi at Shaheen Bagh during an CAA protest, where “Umar Khalid told him to be prepared for something big/riots at the time of the visit of US President [Donald Trump]”.
Khalid has refuted the allegations against him and said he was being falsely implicated. “It is an upside down world that we are living in, in which these organisations and individuals that have worked for communal harmony are being implicated,” he told The Hindu.
Clashes had broken out between supporters of the Citizenship Amendment Act and those opposing it in North East Delhi in February, 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 riots of 1984.
In April, Khalid along with Jamia Millia Islamia students Meeran Haider and Safoora Zargar were booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, or UAPA, in connection with the case. The police claimed in the first information report that the communal violence was a “premeditated conspiracy” which was allegedly hatched by Khalid and the two others.
The students were also booked for sedition, murder, attempt to murder, promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion and rioting. Zargar was granted bail in June.
The FIR claimed that Khalid had allegedly given provocative speeches at two different places and appealed to Delhi’s residents to hit the streets in protest during Trump’s visit to India in February, in order to spread “propaganda” at the global level about how minorities in India are being mistreated. The FIR also claimed that the police collected firearms, petrol bombs, acid bottles and stones from several houses, establishing a conspiracy.