Former Jawaharlal Nehru University student Umar Khalid on Thursday told a Delhi court that he has not been allowed to step out of his cell or talk to anyone, a kind of solitary confinement, the Hindustan Times reported. Khalid is in jail under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for his alleged role in the Delhi violence in February.
“Security does not mean that I should be punished like this,” Khalid told the court. He said he had been kept inside his cell and secluded on the orders of the additional jail superintendent. Khalid also said that he is not feeling well and as a result of being confined to his cell, is feeling both physically and mentally discomfited.
Khalid was brought to court virtually for the extension of his remand in the case, Live Law reported. He told Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat that when he complained to the jail superintendent, he was allowed to step out of his cell for 10 minutes, but was then asked to go inside again. The judge then ordered the jail superintendent to be present for a hearing on Friday.
Khalid’s lawyer urged the court to order that he should not suffer any adverse consequences from jail authorities for complaining about them to the court. “If an undertrial expresses a grievance, then you don’t punish him,” the judge said. Rawat then adjourned the hearing till Friday.
The police have sought extension of Khalid’s custody by 30 days. The court will consider this plea on Friday at 2 pm.
On October 17, the court had directed the Delhi Police to give adequate security to Khalid. The former JNU student had sought security on the grounds of his “ideological differences and dissenting opinion”.
Earlier this month, the court sent Khalid to judicial custody for 14 days in a case related to the violence that rocked Northeast Delhi. The case is related to the riots in Khajuri Khas area. A case of rioting was registered at the Khajuri Khas Police Station in which 15 people, including suspended Aam Aadmi Party Councillor Tahir Hussain, were arrested. The court had earlier sent Khalid to police custody for three days in the case.
Khalid was arrested under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in a separate case related a larger conspiracy in the violence. He was sent to judicial custody till October 22 in the UAPA case, for which the hearing was held on Thursday.
Clashes had broken out between the supporters of the Citizenship Amendment Act and those opposing it between February 23 and 26 in North East Delhi, 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 Delhi Police claim the violence was part of a larger conspiracy to defame Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government and was hatched by those who organised the protests against the amended Citizenship Act. They further claimed the protestors had secessionist motives and were using “the façade of civil disobedience” to destabilise the government. The police have arrested several activists and students based on these “conspiracy” charges.