A marked man from his JNU days: Umar Khalid.

A marked man from his JNU days: Umar Khalid.

Price of dissent, protest; Umar Khalid arrested for ‘conspiracy’ in Delhi riots

Police dragging in others like filmmakers Rahul Roy, Saba Dewan to join probe

Agency Report | New Delhi | 14 September, 2020 | 11:00 PM

Anti-CAA protester and United Against Hate member Umar Khalid arrested post midnight on 14 September under FIR 59, that deals with the alleged conspiracy behind the Delhi Riots of February 2020. The same day, he was sent to 10-day police custody by a Karkardooma court. He has been charged under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and booked for sedition, murder, attempt to murder and several offences under the Indian Penal Code. The Delhi Police Special Cell is yet to submit the charge sheet for FIR 59 and the deadline for it is 17 September. However, Umar Khalid’s name has surfaced several times in other charge sheets which project him as the mastermind of the riots.

A Delhi court on Monday sent former Jawaharlal Nehru University student Umar Khalid, arrested in connection with a case related to the widespread violence which broke out in the capital’s northeast area this February, to 10 days police custody “considering the nature of the case”.

Delhi Police’s Special Cell arrested Khalid on Sunday night under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act after questioning him for over ten hours. He was produced before Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat of Karkardooma court via video-conferencing on Monday afternoon.

The Additional Sessions Judge said: “Considering the nature of the case and role of the accused Umar Khalid that has surfaced so far regarding the conspiracy and involvement in anti-CAA/NPR/NRC protest…I deem it fit that, for having an effective and proper investigation, to allow the present application for seeking police custody remand of the accused Umar Khalid for a period of ten days.”

The court has directed the investigating officer to get the accused medically examined every 24 hours. Khalid’s lawyers — Trideep Pais, Sanya Kumar and Rakshanda Deka — have also been permitted to confer with the accused for a period not exceeding half an hour at the beginning of the police custody and thereafter, every day during the remand period.

During the course of proceedings on Monday, Special Public Prosecutor Amit Prasad sought 10 days police custody of Khalid to confront him with huge technical data running into 11 lakh pages, “as well as other evidence collected during investigation of present case and also to examine at length about other suspects and various other aspects”.

According to the remand application, names of some more suspects have also cropped up during the investigation of riots and Khalid is required to be questioned at length about those suspects to obtain their exact particulars for further investigation.

“From the examination of witnesses, it is revealed that accused Umar Khalid was coordinating the protest sites in Delhi in connivance with other radical groups. The mobile phone of accused Umar Khalid was already seized in this case and more than 40 GB data was extracted by CERT.”

The remand application further said that during the interrogation, his active involvement in anti-CAA, NPR, NRC protests with the support of several other radical groups and organisations, which finally resulted in to recent riots, was “reconfirmed”.

Advocate Pais opposed the remand application of the police and claimed that his client was “not in Delhi during the riots”.

He contended that no reason has been mentioned in the remand application as to why such drawn-out police custody is required. “Application has no base. Why has the police not mentioned which speech of Umar was problematic. What do they want for him in 10 days?” he asked.

Counsel requested the court to ensure safety and security of Khalid. It was further submitted that certain items like track suits, t-shirt, etc. be also given to the accused.

Allowing the request, the judge directed the Deputy Commissioner of Police to make proper arrangements for ensuring his safety and security during the police custody remand. He will now be produced before the court on September 24.

Khalid is accused of hatching a criminal conspiracy to cause communal unrest by inciting people protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the proposed National Register of Citizens.

On March 6, the FIR was registered against Khalid and a person identified as Danish based on information provided by an informer to Crime Branch Sub-Inspector Arvind Kumar.

According to FIR number 59/2020, complainant Arvind Kumar said that riots are a premeditated conspiracy. “The conspiracy was hatched by Umar Khalid and two others associated with different organisations,” as per the FIR.

Khalid gave provocative speeches at two different places and appealed to people to block the roads during US President Donald Trump’s visit, to spread propaganda at the international level about how minorities in India are being persecuted, the FIR added.

He and his associates brought women and children to the road at several places in a bid to hatch conspiracy to incite riots, the Sub-Inspector alleged, adding that firearms, petrol bombs, acid bottles, and stones were stored at homes in Kardampuri, Jafrabad, Chand Bagh, Gokulpuri, Shiv Vihar and nearby areas as part of the conspiracy.

Explaining the conspiracy, the complainant said that co-accused Danish was given the responsibility of gathering people from different places to take part in the violence. “On February 23, women and children were made to block the roads under the Jafrabad Metro Station to create tension amidst the neighbourhood people in a bid to give rise to riots,” it added.

Besides this, Khalid is also named in charge sheets filed in various cases of the riots. Communal violence broke out in northeast Delhi on February 24 after clashes between the citizenship law supporters and protesters spiralled out of control leaving at least 53 people dead and around 200 injured.

“My son Umar Khalid has been arrested tonight at 11 p.m. by Special Cell, Delhi Police under UAPA. Police was questioning him since 1 p.m. He has been implicated in Delhi riots,” said Syed Qasim Rasool Ilyas, father of Umar Khalid.

Khalid was summoned on Saturday and Sunday. He was arrested after being questioned for around 10 hours and will be produced before a Delhi court on Monday.

Earlier on September 2, Khalid was called by the Crime Branch for questioning in the northeast Delhi riots case. He was let off after the questioning.

The arrest comes hours after Delhi police issued a statement on Sunday in which it has asked those who have doubts and questions about the northeast Delhi riots probe to take legal course at the appropriate time.

The Delhi police said that various interest groups are using social media platforms and other online portals to raise questions about the fairness of investigation of the northeast Delhi riot cases.

Earlier, retired IPS officer Julio Ribeiro, who was former Mumbai police commissioner, DGP Gujarat and Punjab, and former Indian Ambassador to Romania, has written to Delhi Police Commissioner S N Shrivastava, questioning the probe into the northeast Delhi riots cases.

Since December, Delhi was brimming with tensions after the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was passed. A sit-in protest against it started at various parts of the national capital. An agitation also started near Jafrabad metro station in northeast Delhi.

The protests in northeast Delhi turned violent and around 53 people were killed.

Documentary filmmakers Rahul Roy and Saba Dewan were summoned by the Delhi Police’s special cell on Monday in connection with the North-East Delhi riots.

The Delhi Police claim to have found their links with some students’ outfit, and with a WhatsApp group called the ‘Delhi Protests Support Group (DPSG)’. This happened hours after Delhi police formally arrested former JNU student and activist Umar Khalid in connection with the Delhi riots.

Rahul Roy and Saba reached the office of the Special cell at Lodhi Colony at 2 p.m. on Monday to join the investigation.

Sources said 15-20 members of the WhatsApp group have been questioned so far — most recently, Delhi University Professor Apoorvanand, whose phone was also seized.

Earlier, the special cell of Delhi police had arrested former JNU student Umar Khalid under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in connection with the North-East Delhi riots that broke out in February this year.

So far, Delhi Police have arrested 1,575 persons in the 751 cases filed in the North-East Delhi riots. Over 250 charge-sheets have been filed in the riots related cases in which 1,153 accused have been charge-sheeted. All these cases are pending before the Special Courts constituted for the trial. (IANS)