New Delhi: Former JNU student Umar Khalid was arrested on Sunday night under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in Delhi for his alleged role in the riots that broke out in northeast Delhi on February his year.
According to reports, Khalid was summoned on Saturday for interrogation at the Special Cell office in Lodhi Colony. On Sunday he arrived at around 1 pm and was questioned for over 11 hours during the day before he was arrested in the evening.
An FIR was filed against the former JNU student on March 6 accusing him along with three others of being part of the conspiracy to hatch the Northeast Delhi riots in February .
In the riots which happened at the national capital on February 23-26, this year, was a clash between the supporters of Citizenship Amendment Act and those opposing killed 53 people including a policeman, many with gunshot wounds.
Khalid’s arrest came a day after the Delhi police named Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury, Swaraj Abhiyan chief Yogendra Yadav, economist Jayati Ghosh, Delhi university professor Apoorvanand and filmmaker Rahul Roy in an accused’s disclosure statement, stating that they took part in anti-CAA demonstrations to “provoke and mobilise” crowds.
In a press statement released after the arrest of Umar Khalid by a group of activists, academics and lawyers condemned the police action and described it as ‘witch hunt’.
The statement to the press signed by Ravi Kiran Jain and V. Suresh of the Peoples Union for Civil Liberties, lawyers Mihir Desai and N.D. Pancholi, academics Satish Deshpande, Mary John, Apoorvanand, Nandini Sundar and Shuddhabrata Sengupta, and rights activists Aakar Patel, Harsh Mander, Farah Naqvi and Biraj Patnaik expressed their resentment against the arrest, “As citizens deeply committed to constitutional values, we condemn the arrest of Umar Khalid who has been subjected to a malicious investigation targeting peaceful anti-CAA protestors.”
“Repeated attempts by the Delhi police to implicate (Khalid) in a number of fictitious cases of conspiracy for the Delhi violence are part of a brazen attempt to try to suppress his voice of dissent,” the statement says.
They also pointed on how young dissenting voices have been targeted by the establishment, “It is very significant that of the 20 arrested, 19 are under the age of 31. Of which 17 have been charged under the draconian UAPA and have been imprisoned on charges of a conspiracy for the Delhi violence whereas those who actually instigated and participated in the violence has not been touched. Of the ones incarcerated, five are women, except for one all are also students”
Prashant Bhushan, public interest lawyer in the Supreme Court labelled the ongoing into Delhi riots as “malafide” and called it a conspiracy against protesters. “Umar Khalid’s arrest by Delhi police after naming Yechury, Yogendra Yadav, Jayati Ghosh& Apoorvanand, leaves no doubt at all about the malafide nature of it’s investigation into Delhi riots. It’s a conspiracy by the police to frame peaceful activists in the guise of Investigation” said Bhushan in tweet.
The joint press statement had also requested the media to refrain from peddling false information or “selective leakages” that can hamper the course of justice. “This must cease by all means. If we let law take its own course, we are confident that justice would prevail,” the statement read.