Delhi’s Karkardooma Court today rejected bail to former JNU student activist Umar Khalid in a “larger conspiracy” case relating to the 2020 Northeast Delhi violence. He was arrested on September 14, 2020, and is currently imprisoned at Delhi’s Tihar jail
Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat had reserved the order on March 3 after hearing arguments from the counsel appearing for Mr Khalid and the prosecution.
During the arguments, the accused told the court that the prosecution lacked the evidence to prove its case against him.
Umar Khalid faces charges under the anti-terror law Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for being one of the “masterminds” of the February 2020 riots, which had left 53 people dead and over 700 injured. 18 people have been named accused in the Delhi riots larger conspiracy case, but only 6 have received bail so far.
Senior Advocate Trideep Pais, appearing for Umar Khalid, had argued that the entire charge sheet filed by Delhi Police in the case is a fabrication and that the case against him is based on the video clips run by two TV channels showing a truncated version of his speech.
The student leader faces IPC sections pertaining to inciting riots, promoting religious enmity, giving provocative speeches for allegedly “pre-planning” the communal riot incidents of February 2020.
The prosecution had argued that Umar Khalid was a “veteran of sedition” and the “silent whisper behind the first phase of the riots that took place in 2019”. The student leader’s lawyer had argued that these were rhetorical allegations made without any factual basis.
The prosecution had said there are incriminating WhatsApp chats that were allegedly used in the “execution of the conspiracy”. Mr Pais had said there was no merit in arguments about incriminating WhatsApp chats as he sent only four messages on the WhatsApp group “Delhi Protest Support Group” between December 2019 and March 2020.
Umar Khalid’s defence in court was that statements in the charge sheet are “figments of imagination” and like “9 pm script of shouting news channels”.
Witnesses gave inconsistent, cooked-up statements, Mr Pais had argued, adding that charge sheets were handed out to media to form an unfavourable public opinion.
The violence had erupted during the protests against the citizenship law Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens.
Besides Umar Khalid, activist Khalid Saifi, JNU students Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita, Jamia Coordination Committee members Safoora Zargar, former AAP councillor Tahir Hussain and several others have also been booked under the stringent law in the case.