Delhi Riots: CAA Protests Were Secular, Chargesheet Was Communal, Umar Khalid’s Counsel tells Delhi Court

Student activist Umar Khalid’s lawyer on Tuesday told a Delhi court that many people participated in the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in February last year. Although the protests were secular in nature, the charge sheet filed by the Delhi police was communal, Khalid’s legal counsel said, LiveLaw reported.

Trideep Pais, Khalid’s lawyer and senior advocate made the remarks before additional sessions judge (ASJ) Amitabh Rawat, who has been hearing Umar Khalid’s bail plea in a Delhi communal riots case and has been charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

Pais further argued that there was “no rational basis” to make the student leader an accused in the riots case and no violence or funding can be traced back to him. Khalid was not present in Delhi at the relevant time, he added.

“It shows motive. You have a person who speaks out against the State and you want to frame him,” Bar and Bench quoted Pais saying. 

Khalid’s counsel pointed out contradictions within the chargesheet, particularly the claim that Umar Khalid had started the Whatsapp group titled ‘Jamia Coordination Committee’; of which Khalid is not even a member.

The claims were born out of “fertile imagination” of the investigating officer (IO), Pais argued against the claim, adding, “This person is not an IO. He is a script writer. Literally this novella this person has written.”

Paid informed the court about the fact that one Kumail Fatima had created the Whatsapp group, and said, “When he is not an accused, how can I be made an accused?” However, Pais clarified that he was not saying that Fatima be made an accused but rather that no one should have been made an accused.

Since the investigating agency has Khalid’s phone, Pais said that they can verify whether or not the Whatsapp group in question had been made by him.

Pais noted the reference to the statements of one protected witness who has been dubbed ‘Bond’ and was a part of the Whatsapp group. “No direct reference or attribution had been made to Khalid.” Futher more, the lawyer said that Bond was the only witness whose statement the police has able to obtain and question the fortuitous timing at which the witness came forward; in August last year, just one month before Umar Khalid’s arrest.

Objecting to the Delhi police’s dubbing of a chakka jam as a “terrorist act”, Pais stated that student protestors, farmers, and different types of groups use it as a means to protest. He also objected to the claims that women protestors were paid to sit at the protest sites and no exact words are used and that only, “Broad statements are used.”

Umar Khalid’s case has been listed for further hearing on November 8.

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