The Delhi High Court on Friday asked the city police to show videos of Pinjra Tod activist Devangana Kalita making instigating speeches during the communal violence that broke out in February, PTI reported.
Justice Suresh Kumar Kait, while hearing arguments on Kalita’s bail plea, asked police for the evidence. “Show me any portion of the speech recorded by the media or anyone else which showed that Kalita instigated the mob to commit the crime,” he said. “During that period, the media was everywhere and recording everything. I want to know what she said which instigated the mob.”
Additional Solicitor General SV Raju, representing the police, told the court that reporters were not present when the incident took place on February 25 and they do not have videos of the speeches made by Kalita. Raju claimed that witness accounts showed Kalita’s role in instigating the mob.
The law officer opposed Kalita’s bail plea, arguing that the violence was well-planned and organised to damage the country’s image. Raju stated that it was a case where a large number of persons were involved and it was not possible to present video evidence.
The investigating officer told Kait that there was a mob of 10,000 people with no media personnel around. Kalita, he said, was speaking a kilometre away. “If she was 1 km away, how did you manage to hear what she was saying,” the judge asked. The officer said a station house officer had heard Kalita make an instigating speech.
Advocate Kapil Sibal, representing Kalita, said the police was not showing any instigation or speeches allegedly given by her as they want to rely on statements recorded under the Code of Criminal Procedure. The counsel shared a video with the court to show that the police were recording the protest and said the officials were still not showing any videos to the court.
“Accused in not a politician,” Sibal said. “She is an academician and a research scholar. She has already been granted bail in two cases. Let the police show us the video and the hate speech. The police are not showing us that there is any possibility of her fleeing from justice.”
Raju said the academic record of a person is not required for considering bail and claimed Kalita knows how to evade the law. “Others are poor illiterate ladies who were instigated to turn violent,” he added. “They were given false statements. It was a case of conspiracy and violation of Section 144 CrPC order. Poor people were misled by her that they will be thrown out of the country.”
The court reserved its order on Kalita’s bail petition. She and another Pinjra Tod member Natasha Narwal were arrested on May 23 in connection with a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act in North East Delhi’s Jafrabad area in February. A day later, they were granted bail in the matter by a court in Delhi. Immediately after the court’s order, the Delhi Police moved an application to interrogate the two activists and arrested them in a separate case related to the violence.
They were charged with attempt to murder, rioting and criminal conspiracy. Narwal and Kalita have also been booked under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for allegedly being part of a “premeditated conspiracy” in the violence.
On June 14, a trial court had dismissed bail pleas of Kalita and Narwal on the grounds that there was no merit in their applications, adding that the investigation is still pending in the case. On August 11, the Delhi High Court had issued a notice to the police on the bail petition of Narwal.