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.
Umar Khalid’s arrest by Delhi police after naming Yechury, Yogendra Yadav, Jayati Ghosh& Apoorvanand, leaves no doubt at all about the malafide nature of it’s investigation into Delhi riots. It’s a conspiracy by the police to frame peaceful activists in the guise of Investigation
— Prashant Bhushan (@pbhushan1) September 14, 2020
Remember yesterday the @DelhiPolice was trying to claim it wasn’t accusing/arresting activists based on “disclosure statements”? Well, they were lying. @UmarKhalidJNU, a fine young activist defending India’s democracy, has been arrested under UAPA, sedition etc. Shame!
— Kavita Krishnan (@kavita_krishnan) September 14, 2020
Delhi Police special cell arrested Umar Khalid late at night after hours of interrogation. He had already shown how witnesses were being coerced to give false statements to frame him. He stood for democracy and constitution. Speak before it is too late. #StandWithUmarKhalid
— Kawalpreet Kaur (@kawalpreetdu) September 13, 2020