The Delhi High Court on Friday granted bail to a SIM card salesman accused of being part of a conspiracy behind the large-scale communal violence that took place in the Capital in February. The court noted that there was no evidence of accusations against him.
The Delhi Police’s first information report numbered 59/2020 is the seed of the conspiracy case.
Faizan Khan was arrested by the police on July 29, according to HuffPost. He was charged under the stringent stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The Delhi Police had said in their chargesheet that Jamia Millia Islamia student Asif Iqbal Tanha had in December asked Khan for a SIM card on a fake identity. Tanha was also charged under the UAPA and arrested in May.
According to HuffPost, an unidentified man got the SIM card from Khan in January and handed it over to Safoora Zargar – another Jamia student named in the conspiracy case. She was granted bail in June.
Justice Suresh Kumar Kait of the Delhi High Court noted that the police had not been able to prove the accusations against Khan, which were based on “bald statements of witnesses”. A copy of the bail order was accessed by Scroll.in.
“It is pertinent to mention here that the onerous conditions/embargo under section 43D (5) of the UAPA, 1967 will not be applicable in the present case qua the petitioner herein as per the material on record and the investigating agency’s owns status report, which does not disclose the commission of the offences under the UAPA, 1967, except bald statements of the witnesses.”— Justice Suresh Kumar Kait, in Khan's bail order
Senior advocate Salman Khurshid, who appeared for Khan, told the court that he was just a poor salesman and the charges against him were disproportionate. He added that Khan was not even present in Delhi when violence broke out and had no connection to the accused.
The judge then said that there was no evidence of Khan being linked to the accused and that he had only sold one SIM card for a low price. “There is no proof on record such as CCTV footage, video or chats of petitioner with any of the group except the allegation that he provided SIM on fake ID in December 2019 and taken a small amount of Rs. 200/- for the same,” he said. “It is not the case of the prosecution that he provided many SIMs and continued to do the same.”
The judge added: “It is also not the case of prosecution that he was part of any chat-group or part of any group who conspired to commit offence as alleged in the present case.” He noted that Khan had fully cooperated with the police.
Khan is the second person after Zargar to get bail in the Delhi riots conspiracy case, since UAPA was invoked in April.
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.