Does road blockade attract UAPA, Umar Khalid asks court

New Delhi, October 13 (KMS):  Former Jawaharlal Nehru University student leader Umar Khalid, arrested under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in the north-east Delhi riots case, asked a Delhi court whether organising a road blockade constitute an offence to invite invocation of anti-terror law UAPA.

Khalid, along with several others, has been booked under the stringent UAPA and is accused of being the ‘masterminds’ of the February 2020 northeast Delhi riots, which had left 53 people dead and over 700 injured.

Arguing his bail plea in the riots conspiracy case before additional sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat, his lawyer referred to the supplementary charge sheet filed in the case and said that the police wished to paint every accused with the same brush while adding tadka (flavour) to it.

The Delhi police had earlier said that Umar Khalid’s bail plea has no merit and that it will demonstrate the prima facie case against him before the court by referring to the charge sheet filed in the case.

However, during the hearing, senior advocate Trideep Pais, appearing for Umar Khali told the court, “I’ll show your honour how the UAPA is not made out or allegations are improbable.”He referred to three allegations made against the accused in the charge sheet, emphasising that they were fertile imagination of the police and had no consistency.

He submitted that the first allegation levelled by the police in the charge sheet was that JNU student Sharjeel Imam created a WhatsApp group of Muslim students on the directions of Umar Khalid on December 4, 2019.

Denying it, he said, ‘Constituting a WhatsApp group of Muslim students, is it a terror? There is no witness to say that it was formed on the instance of Umar (Khalid). It is so easy to rope me in the charge sheet which is just a conjecture.’

The lawyer further said that there was not even a single shred of communication between Imam and Umar Khalid and no message was shared by the latter in the WhatsApp group.

‘Just being in a group is not a crime,’ the counsel emphasised in a one-hour-long hearing.

Furthermore, he denied the second allegation levelled by the police regarding a speech given by Umar Khalid at a protest organised by United Against Hate at Jantar Mantar on December 7, 2019, where, as per the prosecution, he also introduced Swaraj India president Yogender Yadav to Imam.

‘Police said that Imam was introduced to Yogender Yadav by Umar Khalid, his senior and mentor. Senior, mentor this ‘tadka’ (flavour) has been put by them. It is such a dangerous thing,’ the counsel said, referring to the charge sheet.

He also said that the speech purportedly given by Umar Khalid was produced by the police and there is no evidence that it incited anybody.

He further said that the third allegation against him was that he was allegedly part of a ‘secret meeting’ held on December 8, 2019, where organising a chakka jaam (road blockade) was discussed.

‘Is chakka jam an offence, does it invite the UAPA? Is a meeting to say that our protest will involve chakka jam automatically a criminal conspiracy? Where does it say it’s a crime? This meeting has found itself on every news item, branded about like some great conspiracy,’ he said.

The court will now hear the bail plea on November 2.

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