Several incidents attributed to activist Umar Khalid in connection with the 2020 Delhi violence do not qualify as acts of terrorism, his counsel advocate Trideep Pais told the Delhi High Court on Monday, Bar and Bench reported.
“They [acts committed by Khalid] were just meeting of people or protest,” Pais said. “I [Khalid] did not take part in any violent protest nor is there any material to suggest that.”
The advocate asked if protests can be described as acts of terror, adding that the chargesheet had “flowery allegations” against Khalid.
Pais made the statement before a bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Rajnish Bhatnagar hearing Khalid’s bail plea.
Khalid was arrested on September 14, 2020, after clashes broke out between the supporters of the Citizenship Amendment Act, or CAA, and those opposing the law in North East Delhi between February 23 and February 26 of that year. The violence claimed 53 lives and hundreds were injured. The majority of those killed were Muslims.
Khalid has been accused of making provocative speeches at two sites of protests against the CAA and hatching a conspiracy to incite the riots. He has been booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, the sedition law and several other provisions of the Indian Penal Code.
On March 24, Khalid was denied bail in the UAPA case by Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat. The allegations against Khalid in the chargesheet appear to be prima facie true, Rawat had said.
On Monday, Pais said that the special judge had described the anti-CAA protests as terrorist acts.
“The judge says these are acts threatening the unity and integrity of India,” he said. “Who are we pointing this at? These are the people who said CAA is discriminatory. They want to be part of India.”
Citizenship Amendment Act provides an expedited path to Indian citizenship for Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, and Christian religious minorities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. Muslims have been excluded from the ambit of the law.
“The protests were against an unjust law,” Pais said, adding that the demonstrators were not perpetrating violence.
Justice Mridul asked Pais if residents of the areas where the protests took place had become insecure. The advocate said that the chargesheet did not have details on the fear of residents.
‘No connection between Khalid, Sharjeel Imam’
There is no connection between activist Sharjeel Imam and Khalid, Pais said on Monday. He said that both the activists were linked through a WhatsApp Group called Muslims Students of JNU.
Imam was charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in April 2020 for his alleged inflammatory speeches. Three months later, the police accused him of sedition. A chargesheet against him said that the 2020 Delhi riots were a result of his speeches.
“The [supplementary] chargesheet says Umar Khalid was Sharjeel Imam’s mentor and had a special interest in him,” Pais said. “I will highlight the chargesheet and submit to your lordships that attribute communal character, all these are lines which are just put in to create hype.”
Justice Mridul described the supplementary chargesheet as verbose.
Khalid was accused without any proof that he had asked Imam to create a WhatsApp group to coordinate the protests, Pais said.
“There is no statement by anybody that I directed him to create this group,” he said. “There is no communication between me and him. At best we have been in just one meeting.”
This article first appeared on scroll.in