It has been alleged that many arrested and slapped with charges under the stringent UAPA over the violence that broke out in Northeast Delhi in February 2020 are innocent. Although the faces of a few made it to the headlines, many others have just got lost in the dark, languishing in jails. In our upcoming documentary, which is releasing on 22 June, we bring you stories of at least four such unknown faces. Here’s a small snippet of one of the stories featured in the documentary – of Salim Khan.

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The Honourable Judge,

Sir, I am not a lawyer. Nor have I read the A-B-C-D of law, but I have seen in movies that the law listens to everyone. I have heard a saying that to save an innocent, 10 criminals may survive but one innocent should not be punished. I am innocent, but I have been in jail for many months.

A sketch was made on a white page with blue colour and through the sketch, someone’s blurred face was visible. It was not very clear whose sketch it was. But on the upper part of the page, it stated in English, ‘Delhi Riots 2020’. At the bottom of the page, it was written, ‘Big Turn of My Life’. On the next page, there was the letter we have quoted from above.

Mohammad Salim Khan, who has been in jail for two years on charges of involvement in Delhi riots, sometimes writes letters to the judge and sometimes to his family. While in jail, he has brought out the pain of his life on hundreds of pages. Salim Khan’s wife, Shabina Khan, shows these pages as she says, “My husband Salim Khan is innocent.”

Violence had erupted in Delhi during the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act in February 2020. Salim Khan has been in jail since 13 March 2020, on charges of violence. He was named an accused under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for plotting the riots.

He is also accused of killing constable Ratan Lal.

Salim has three children. Saima, 23, is the eldest and is pursuing her graduation in dental surgery.

‘My Father Called When the Ruckus Began, We Asked Him To Stay in Office’
Saima says, “My father had an exports business. His office was in street number 3 of Chand Bagh pocket in Mustafabad. He had been conducting his business from there for almost 28 years. And as usual, on 24 February 2020, he was in his office. It was then that the riot broke out.”

“When the commotion erupted, he called my mother and said that there was a ruckus there. We told him that he should not come home because there is only one way to come home, and he might get stuck. So, he remained there. More than 50 people were killed in this violence. After the violence, we came to know that constable Ratan Lal ji had unfortunately died. My father had no hand in this.”
Salim Khan Is Named in 3 FIRs
Salim Khan has been named as an accused in three FIRs registered by Delhi Police on 25 February, 5 March, and 6 March after the violence.

Two of these FIRs carry punitive charges, including criminal conspiracy, culpable homicide not amounting to murder, and voluntarily causing hurt, as well as charges under the Arms Act.

The FIR against Khan includes stringent charges from sections 13, 16, 17, 18 of the UAPA, sections 25 and 27 of the Arms Act, and sections 3 and 4 of the Prevention of Public Damage to Property Act, 1984.
Saima ​​said that after the violence, her father got a call from the investigating officer, Gurmeet: “He called Papa to the police station two or three times and Papa cooperated in the investigation.”

“It was not that Papa had deferred showing up or had gotten scared. Papa said that he had not done anything and was helping in some legal work. But on 11 March, a letter came from the police and Papa was arrested.”
“When I saw my father after three months, I could not recognise him.”

Salim Khan’s wife Shabina Khan tearfully recalls that for three months after his arrest, there was no information about where he was, where the police had kept him.

Saima shared that after three months they got a call from her father and for the first time in life, he broke into tears in front of them. “We got a chance to meet my father at Lodhi Colony police station,” she says.

“The most surprising thing is that when Papa was arrested, he was absolutely fit. But when I met him for the first time three months later, I could not even recognise him. He was so thin, his hair and beard white. I had never imagined that my father could look like this,” says Saima.

Accusations Against the Police
Salim Khan’s lawyer Mujibur Rahman says that in connection with FIR 59, in which Salim Khan is named, the police have written such a long charge sheet that it will take time for the team of lawyers to read through them.

“We have to read every page, do not know where our work will be. It has been made to take a lot of time. And this is how the time in jail is increased. Even if you are acquitted tomorrow, you have got the ‘punishment’, whether you have committed that crime or not,” he says.

The hearing on the bail petition of Mohammad Salim Khan was held on 23 May in the Delhi High Court. The Delhi High Court has issued notice to the Delhi government and the police. The matter will now be heard next on 20 July.