Umar Khalid’s Arrest Under UAPA Has Been Condemned By Activists And Lawyers

The Wire’s report says allegations against Khalid were first aired on social media by Bharatiya Janata Party workers when they circulated an edited clip of a speech he delivered in Amravati, Maharashtra on February 17.

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Umar Khalid's Arrest Under UAPA Has Been Condemned By Activists And Lawyers - SurgeZirc India
Umar Khalid's Arrest Under UAPA Has Been Condemned By Activists And Lawyers / Photo credit: Getty Images

Former Jawaharlal Nehru University student leader Umar Khalid was arrested late on Sunday night under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act(UAPA) for his alleged role in the northeast Delhi riots.

According to The Wire, Khalid has also been charged with sedition and 18 other sections of the Indian Penal Code, including murder and attempt to murder.

The arrest came a day after Delhi Police named CPI (M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, Swaraj Abhiyan leader Yogendra Yadav, economist Jayati Ghosh and Delhi University professor Apoorvanand in a supplementary charge sheet in the February riots cases, accusing them of provoking and mobilising anti-CAA protesters.

Khalid was arrested by the special cell of the Delhi police on Sunday after 11 hours of interrogation and will be produced before a Delhi court on Monday, the Press Trust of India reported. He had been questioned by the Delhi Police Crime Branch for a few of hours on September 2 in connection with the riots.

In April this year, Khalid had been booked under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) in another case related to the riots. He was accused of instigating the violence by allegedly making provocative speeches.

The Wire’s report says allegations against Khalid were first aired on social media by Bharatiya Janata Party workers when they circulated an edited clip of a speech he delivered in Amravati, Maharashtra on February 17.

Khalid’s lawyer Trideep Pais had told the Indian Express on Saturday that the allegations against Khalid were “completely false, fabricated and procured illegally through duress”.

Within hours of his arrest, academics, lawyers and rights activists released a statement the Delhi Police action as a “witch hunt”.

“With deep anguish we have no doubt in saying that this investigation is not about the violence in February 2020 in the national capital, but on the completely peaceful and democratic protests across the country against the unconstitutional CAA,” the statement said.

The signatories to the statement are 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.

“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,” their statement said, The Wire quoted.

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