Over 730 days in jail; No bail for Meeran Haider in UAPA case

New Delhi, April 06 (KMS): A court in the Indian capital New Delhi dismissed the bail petition of Jamia Milia Islamia student leader, Meeran Haider, in a case registered against him under draconian law, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) in connection with violence in northeast Delhi in February 2020.

Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat passed the order. The detailed verdict is expected to be made public soon.

Referring to Section 15 of the UAPA which defines a terrorist act, the prosecution had argued that the riots in Delhi were meticulously planned, there was destruction of properties, disruption of essential services, use of petrol bombs, lathis, stones etc., and therefore meeting the criteria which is required under 15(1)(a)(i),(ii) and (iii) of the Act, the Live Law reported.

The prosecution had argued that the 2020 anti-CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) sit-in protests were carefully planned, picking strategic protest sites closer to 25 mosques. Prosecution had submitted that these sites were places with religious significance but were purposely given Secular names to give legitimate appearance to the allegedly communal protests.

Meeran Haider, a Rashtriya Janata Dal youth wing leader, has been named in a chargesheet under the UAPA in a case pertaining to an alleged conspiracy to incite the riots. The other accused persons in the case are activists Umar Khalid and Khalid Saifi, JNU student leader Sharjeel Imam, former Congress councillor Ishrat Jahan, former Aam Aadmi Party councillor Tahir Hussain, Pinjra Tod activists Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita, Jamia Millia Islamia student activists Safoora Zargar and Asif Iqbal Tanha, student activist Gulfisha Fatima, Jamia Millia Islamia Alumni Association president Shifa ur Rahman, and educational consultant Tasleem Ahmad.

Meeran was among dozens arrested for protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act, which fast-tracks Indian naturalisation for religious minorities – Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians – from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, but makes no reference to Muslims.

The passage of the law, which the United Nations called “fundamentally discriminatory”, saw tens of thousands of Indians taking to the streets. It was during the anti-CAA protests that violence erupted in Muslim neighbourhoods of northeast Delhi in February, 2020. At least 53 people, most of them Muslims, were killed, and dozens of houses and mosques destroyed. Rights groups accused the police in Delhi of inaction and complicity in the violence, the worst the capital had seen since the anti-Sikh genocide of 1984.

In the police crackdown that followed the anti-Muslim pogrom, dozens of activists – a large number of them Muslims, some victims of the violence – were accused of instigating the violence and arrested under the UAPA and other charges.