Former JNU student Umar Khalid, through his lawyer, asked a Delhi court Monday why police allowed the Northeast Delhi riots to take place when a protected witness was supposedly in touch with the local SHO, informing him about the planning.
Senior advocate Trideep Pais was arguing for bail on behalf of Umar before Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat. However, his arguments could not be concluded and will continue on December 9.
On the last date of hearing, Pais submitted that the witnesses in the UAPA case made cooked-up statements and that a case can’t be made on half-truths. During Monday’s hearing, Pais submitted that the witnesses had made improved statements to the Magistrate and that they were “cherry picked” by police around Umar’s arrest.
Referring to the statement of a protected witness, who claimed he was in touch with the local SHO, Pais told the court, “He says he is regularly in touch with SHO (Seelampur) who asks him to keep him updated. If you are in touch with SHO, then why did you not ensure that nothing went on? What happened? They are such adarsh citizens… they say such noble thoughts and are in touch with the police… isn’t it apparent that these witnesses were procured?”
Pais said this witness met the SHO sometime in January 2020 and that the officer knew everything beforehand. “Sometime in January, I (witness) met him, then he called me and asked me to tell him everything. So Seelampur SHO knew everything. How did we have riots in the city? This brilliant intelligence that he had about this and he did not register an FIR,” Pais submitted.
Pais apprised the court about the protected witnesses’ statements which talk about a ‘secret meeting’ attended by the riot accused, in which the planning for the riots allegedly took place.
Referring to one such statement, he told the court that the witness, after making his statement to the police, “miraculously remembered the meeting after seven days” in his statement to the Magistrate.
On allegations that women and children were roped in by the accused as a cover for their protests, Pais told the court, “Advocacy against a law is not a crime. It is not in doubt that when the CAA kicks in and NRC starts a person without documents is put in detention… Is there a single woman and child who comes forth and says we were cannon fodder?” Pais submitted.
He then read out the statement of a witness who told a Magistrate that Umar gave a speech where words like chakka jam and “blood must be spilled” were used.
“He doesn’t claim to be present at the meeting but gives granular details of the meeting. He doesn’t call it a secret meeting, but chargesheet calls it a secret meeting. Videos and photos are out on Facebook. How can a secret meeting have selfies posted on Facebook? Certainly, it is not a secret. This must mean the protesters are dumb or the police does not know them,” Pais submitted.
This story first appeared on indianexpress.com