Senior Congress leader and former Union Minister Salman Khurshid, his party colleague Udit Raj and Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Brinda Karat have been named in a chargesheet filed by the Delhi Police in connection with the communal violence that broke out in the Capital in February, PTI reported. The disclosure statements recorded by the police, which are inadmissible as evidence in court, alleged that these leaders gave provocative speeches during the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act.
The chargesheet, filed on September 17, totalling over 17,000 pages, refers to former Congress Councillor Ishrat Jahan and a protected witness. It claims that they told the police about the alleged speeches in their disclosure statements.
The chargesheet said that the protected witness have stated in the statement recorded, under Section 161 (examination by police) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, that Khurshid, Raj and Karat had visited a protest site at Khureji Khas and gave provocative speeches. “Several big names used to come to the Khureji site to give speeches against Citizenship Amendment Act, National Register for Citizens, like Udit Raj, Salman Khurshid, Brinda Karat, Umar Khalid,” the witness alleged.
The police have claimed the protected witness was part of the core team of “conspirators” accused of plotting the violence in North East Delhi, NDTV reported.
Meanwhile, Jahan’s disclosure statement alleged that Khurshid, filmmaker Rahul Roy and Bhim Army member Himanshu were called by her and activist Khalid Saifi on the instructions of the Jamia Coordination Committee to sustain the protests against the citizenship law. “[They] gave provocative speeches because of which all the people sitting in the protest used to get instigated against the government,” Jahan’s statement said, according to PTI.
The police have not mentioned the exact nature of the alleged provocative speeches given by the political leaders.
The supplementary disclosure statement of United Against Hate co-founder Khalid Saifi, which was a part of the chargesheet, also stated people like Khurshid, Jawaharlal Nehru University student Sharjeel Imam and Jamia Millia Islamia student Meeran Haider were called to the Khureji protest site to sustain the protests.
‘Any garbage can be put to support statements’: Salman Khurshid
Khurshid, one of the top politician named in police chargesheets so far, hit out at the police for naming him. “If you do garbage collection, you get a lot of filth,” he told NDTV. “Any garbage can be put to support statements made by individuals. I would be intrigued to know what is a provocative statement.”
He called the chargesheet “an attempt at garbage collection” and questioned the authenticity of the witness statement. “Did I attend a protest to sing a lullaby or support a constitutional, legitimate cause,” the 67-year-old senior Congress leader asked. “Sadly, the garbage collectors are not doing a good job. Don’t pick up garbage and ask questions on the quality of garbage...“Has [the witness] not lied by saying I made provocative statements. Have the police acted on the statement? If they have not acted on it what is the value of the statement.”
Congress leader Udit Raj also criticised the Delhi Police and responded to allegations by tweeting: “The constitution doesn’t permit to determine the citizenship on the basis of religion. My fault is that I said it while standing for Muslims.”
The February violence in North East Delhi left over 50 people dead, hundreds injured and thousands displaced.
Khalid, Roy, Delhi University professor Apoorvanand, Swaraj Abhiyan leader Yogendra Yadav, along with Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury and economist Jayati Ghosh have been named in the disclosure statements of three women accused of playing a key role in the violence. A political row had erupted over this and Opposition leaders have castigated the Delhi Police, which reports to Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
In multiple chargesheets relating to the riots, Delhi Police have claimed that the violence was part of a well-planned conspiracy to defame Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government and was hatched by those who organised the protests against the amended Citizenship Act. The Act introduced a religious test for Indian citizenship that critics said was discriminatory towards Muslims. The protests against the Act started in Delhi in mid-December and spread across the country.
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