By Usha Das

NEW DELHI: Former Congress councillor Ishrat Jahan, arrested under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in a conspiracy case related to the northeast Delhi riots, on Friday told a city court that the allegation that she incited Muslims against Hindus would not suit her politically as she had won from a seat where both the communities had voted for her.

Jahan, through her counsel, told Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat that police had projected her as a “kattar” (hardline) person, but she had won from a seat where Muslims were a minority. She further claimed that no Muslim had ever won from that seat and her victory was due to her secular credentials.

Advocate Pradeep Teotia, appearing for Jahan, told the court, “She was the only woman who contested for the seat where a Muslim had never won before. Both communities voted for her. It would have been dangerous for her to pit Muslims against the other community. Because of her secular credentials, she was victorious. It would not suit her politically.”

Showing pictures of Jahan participating in Hindu and Sikh processions, the lawyer said she didn’t carry the “hardliner” image that police had tried to project. “Why would she do it? There is not an iota of evidence that connects her directly or indirectly to the conspiracy. She wants just one single proof from the prosecution based on which they can justify their action to book her under UAPA,” he added.

Teotia argued that there was a wrongful intent to falsely implicate her in the case and the prosecution showed evidence in piecemeal and not in totality.

“Ishrat has been a lawyer and a young political leader representing India in Singapore, Malaysia, Myanmar, etc at political conferences of Asian leaders… All witnesses shown against her in this case are planted… The pattern of financial withdrawals and deposits has always been the same. Police do not have any qualitative evidence against her,” said the lawyer.

Referring to a recent order by which student activists Natasha Narwal, Devangana Kalita and Asif Iqbal Tanha were granted bail by Delhi High Court, Teotia said if Jahan was indeed such a good conspirator, she could have asked them to influence witnesses on her behalf as they were out of jail.

“She has a better footing than those who got bail from the high court. I challenge the prosecution to show evidence that qualifies her to be prosecuted under UAPA,” said Teotia.

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