A sessions court in Delhi on Tuesday took cognizance of the supplementary charge sheet filed by Delhi Police against Sharjeel Imam, Umar Khalid and Faizan Khan in connection with the Delhi riots conspiracy case. The communal riots took place in north-east Delhi in February this year. Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat said there was sufficient material in the charge sheet to proceed against the three accused, all arrested under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. They have also been booked under Arms Act and Prevention of Damage to Public Properties Act.
The offences under which the Additional Sessions Judge took cognizance include unlawful activities, terrorist act, raising funds for terrorist act, unlawful assembly, rioting, harbouring offenders, destruction of place of worship, murder, attempt to murder, wrongful restraint, house breaking, forgery, dacoity and cheating. Further hearing will take place on December 22.
In its 200-page supplementary charge sheet, Delhi Police has alleged that JNU student leader Umar Khalid “had remotely controlled” the riots in N.E. Delhi that killed 53 people. It was alleged that he orchestrated the violence to coincide with the India visit of US President Donald Trump in order to malign India’s image. The police has alleged that Umar Khalid selected the hot spots like Chand Bagh and Jaffrabad from where “riots would be precipitated”. The charge sheet says, Khalid had outlined the conspiracy on riots at a meeting of his supporters.
In order to understand the extent of this deep rooted conspiracy, one had to remember certain dates. On December 4, 2019, as Parliament approved the Citizenship Amendment Bill, the conspiracy was put into action. Sharjeel Imam and Umar Khalid started mobilizing Muslims students in Delhi, Aligarh and other cities to oppose the law. On December 5-6, Sharjeel created a WhatsApp group named MSJ (Muslim students of JNU). It has 70 members. Though Sharjeel created the group, it was Umar Khalid’s idea, says police. Sharjeel was a fiery orator who could rouse communal frenzy and it was Khalid who encouraged him to address meetings of Muslim students.
After going through the chats on this WhatsApp group, police says, it was Sharjeel Imam who had planned the ‘chakka jam’ stir in Delhi. This later ended up with communal violence in which lives and properties were lost. The Ayodhya dispute judgement had come from Supreme Court on November 9 and on December 6 (Babri demolition day) pamphlets were distributed in Muslim localities to incite violence. Sharjeel Imam set up another WhatsApp group, this time named SOJ(Students of Jamia Millia). It was at his instance that provocative pamphlets were distributed near Jama Masjid of Old Delhi and Nizamuddin.
In my prime time show Aaj Ki Baat, we showed screenshots of chats that took place in both groups and of pamphlets that were distributed among Muslims. Number of pamphlets printed and distributed, and the costs were discussed in these chats. On December 13, students’ protest against CAA was organized in Jamia by this group, and in the violence nearly 20 policemen were injured. The charge sheet contains the full transcript of the inflammatory speech by Sharjeel Imam, in which he threatened ‘chakka jam’ in Delhi and stopping of supplies of fruits, milk and vegetables to the capital.
According to the charge sheet, Sharjeel and Umar Khalid now planned to block the arterial Mathura Road in the guise of anti-CAA protests. On December 15, a bus was set on fire and there was stone pelting by Jamia students. Police says, it was Sharjeel Imam who was the mastermind behind these protests. Two police booths were set on fire, nearly 35 policemen were injured and there was violence in nearby New Friends Colony.
In order to spread anti-CAA protests, Sharjeel Imam visited Aligarh Muslim University on December 11 and in January, where he gave anti-national and communal speeches to students. It was on January 16 that Sharjeel in his speech at AMU threatened to dismember India by cutting off Assam from rest of the country. India TV has the tape of that inflammatory speech.
On December 15, planning began for Muslim women to stage a sit-in at Shaheen Bagh. Sharjeel Imam and Arshad Warsi of Jamia jointly planned the sit-in, and AMU student leaders took part in the meeting where it was planned to block traffic at Shaheen Bagh. Anti-CAA/NRC pamphlets were distributed in Shaheen Bagh and surrounding localities and announcements were made from loudspeakers at mosques. In the beginning, the residents of Shaheen Bagh opposed the sit-in, and the organizers had to bring nearly 300 Bangladeshi Muslim women “on hire” to stage the sit-in.
Delhi Police has produced WhatsApp chat in which Sharjeel told his brother Muzammil that he was the mastermind behind Shaheen Bagh sit-in. According to Delhi Police, it was Umar Khalid who asked Sharjeel to get in touch with maulanas of different mosques in order to mobilize more people for anti-CAA protests. The charge sheet says, Sharjeel and Umar Khalid also created WhatsApp groups of Muslim students from Delhi University and AMU. As the women’s dharna at Shaheen Bagh continued, Sharjeel and Khalid left the site, and on January 10, there was a meeting in JNU to intensify students’ stir in Jamia. In chats with Jamia student Afreen, Sharjeel spoke of bringing people in hundreds to the protest sites on the lines of Hong Kong demonstrations.
Through WhatsApp chats, Delhi Police has sought to prove that it was Sharjeel Imam and his associates who chanted ‘Naara-e-Takbir Allahu Akbar’ and ‘La Ila Il Illaha’ during Congress MP Shashi Tharoor’s visit to JNU. On January 12, Sharjeel wrote on Facebook asking his supporters to shout slogans during Tharoor’s visit. On December 28 last year, two WhatsApp groups, Delhi Protest Support Group(DPSG) and Jamia Coordination Committee were created. Umar Khalid was part of DPSG group, where the planning to carry out violence in North-East Delhi was put in motion. Police have collected digital evidences from Umar Khalid’s cellphone to support its charge.
Umar Khalid was part of planning of Delhi violence, but also shrewdly kept himself aloof from the activity. On February 24 this year, when communal violence started in north-east Delhi, Umar Khalid in order to create a strong alibi booked his flight ticket for Patna a day before. The charge sheet says, this seems to be “a paid getaway” for Umar Khalid. His alibi failed to conceal strong digital evidences which establish that it was he who orchestrated communal violence in Delhi.
According to police, on February 23, a day before the riots, some Muslim women from Jahangirpuri in North Delhi reached Jaffrabad and Seelampur, in North-East Delhi, staged anti-CAA protests, and threw chilli powder at policemen. By then, there were 25 different protest sites across the capital. In order to mobilize people, Sharjeel Imam visited Khureji in north-east Delhi on January 15. He was trying to create another protest site by keeping in touch with another WhatsApp group.
On February 11, dates of India visit of US President Donald Trump were officially announced, and the conspirators now planned to foment communal violence on February 24 and 25, when Trump would be on Indian soil. It was Umar Khalid who, according to Delhi Police, prepared the planning for Delhi riots. Members of different WhatsApp groups became hyperactive, and protests and disturbances were planned.
After going through the detailed charge sheet, I have come to the conclusion that the conspirators used volatile issues like abolition of Triple Talaq, Citizenship Amendment Act, NRC and the historic Supreme Court verdict on Ayodhya dispute, to prepare a cocktail that could create communal conflagration in the national capital, and that too, at a time, when members of the US media corps will be present on Indian soil with their President.
They had a one-point agenda: to embarrass Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the eyes of world leaders. The Shaheen Bagh dharna, Jaffrabad protest, Aligarh students’ protest, protests in some other cities of India, all tell a single tale. The only objective was to defame India before the world by projecting the lie that Muslims are being subjected to atrocities and their voice is being suppressed. Muslim women were brought to the forefront, old, aged and infirm women were brought to protest sites during winter, buses and vehicles were stoned and set on fire, and demonstrators were brought ‘on hire’.
It will be a big challenge for Delhi Police to prove its charges in court and expose the ‘tukde tukde’ gang. The objective must be to punish those conspiring to divide this nation and bring this sordid episode to a logical conclusion.
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