Sharjeel Imam Arrested by Delhi Police In Connection With Delhi Riots

The glaring inconsistency here is that the Delhi riots took place between February 23 and 29. Sharjeel had been in Guwahati Jail since January 28.

imam
Courtesy: Indian Express

On August 25, the Delhi police arrested JNU scholar Sharjeel Imam in connection with the Delhi ‘riots’ under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

A graduate of computer science from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, Sharjeel joined JNU in 2017 to pursue a Ph.D. in Modern Indian History. He was closely associated with the anti-NRC-CAA protests in Shaheen Bagh.

For two of his speeches given on December 13 and December 16, a number of FIRs were filed against him across the country. The Guwahati Crime Branch Police Station filed an FIR against him on January 25 under sections 153 A, 153 B of the UAPA, and 124 A IPC, which can lead to imprisonment for life.

Police in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh filed an FIR against him on the same day for sedition and creating enmity between different religious groups. The Manipur Police filed an FIR against him for sedition, waging war against the Indian government, conspiracy to commit offenses, indulging in vilification, or attacks on a particular group. On January 26, the Arunachal Pradesh police registered a case of sedition against him.

The Delhi Police registered an FIR against him under IPC section 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot) in addition to charges of sedition and promoting religious enmity.

He was arrested from Jehanabad, Bihar on January 28 and brought to Guwahati Jail. While he was in prison, in late April, Delhi Police further booked Sharjeel under the UAPA in connection with the anti-CAA protests near Jamia Millia Islamia in December.

On July 22, Sharjeel tested positive for COVID-19 along with 435 other inmates of Guwahati jail, just before he was about to be brought to Delhi by the Delhi police. On July 25, Delhi Police filed a 600-page long charge sheet against him at the Delhi Patiala House Court.

On August 23, he was brought back to Delhi on a production warrant and the Delhi Police has now arrested him under the UAPA, accusing him of being involved in the conspiracy of the Delhi violence.

The glaring inconsistency here is that the Delhi riots, or rather, the anti-muslim pogrom, took place between February 23 and 29. Sharjeel had been in Guwahati Jail since January 28. Meanwhile, there has been no action taken against BJP leader Kapil Mishra who gave his speech, directly inciting Hindus to forcefully remove Muslims from protest sites, on February 23, shortly before the violence broke out. The arrest of Sharjeel Imam shows the clear attempts of the Delhi police to frame anti-NRC-CAA activists and protestors in the pogrom which was incited by members of the BJP and aided by the Delhi police.

The different attempts at arresting and charging Sharjeel Imam under so many different acts and in so many different states also show an attempt to overwhelm him and his legal resources and drawing out the legal process, especially as the courts are inaccessible during the lockdown. Today, the Supreme Court adjourned the hearing on a plea by Sharjeel Imam asking to club all the various FIRs against him. His legal counsel told the court that while charge sheets are being filed against him, the courts are not allowing them to inspect court files due to the lockdown. The plea hearing was earlier delayed as the Court had to take the permission of all the different State governments.

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