New Delhi; Brushing aside several legal experts and retired police officers questioning the way the Delhi Police was probing the Delhi communal violence, the Arvind Kejriwal government has given its approval for prosecution of former JNU student leader Umar Khalid under the draconian UAPA. Khalid was arrested on September 13 and is incarcerated in Tihar Jail at present.
Police said on Friday they had received prosecution sanction from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government against Khalid in connection with a case related to the February communal violence in Northeast Delhi, according to a PTI report.
Confirming the approval, a senior Delhi government functionary told the news agency: "We have given prosecution sanction in all the Delhi riots related cases registered by the police. Now, it is up to the courts to see who are the accused." The Home Ministry, headed by Amit Shah, under whom the Delhi Police functions, has also given its approval for prosecution of Khalid.
The sanction has been received against Khalid in the Delhi riots conspiracy case, in which he was booked under the stringent anti-terror Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
A senior police officer said that police have received prosecution sanction from both the Delhi government and the Union Home Ministry against Khalid in connection with Delhi riots conspiracy case.
The officer told PTI that the prosecution sanctions against Khalid were received a fortnight ago and added that the Delhi Police can now name Khalid in their supplementary charge sheet.
"To prosecute one under Section 13 of the UAPA, we need sanction from the Ministry of Home Affairs, which we have already received. For prosecution under Section -- 16,17 and 18 of the UAPA, we have received sanction from the Delhi government," the officer said.
Khalid was arrested on September 13 under the UAPA Act in a case related to alleged “conspiracy” behind the communal violence in Northeast Delhi, which killed 54 people, most of whom were Muslims.
It may be recalled that several former IPS and IAS officers, including former Mumbai top cop Julio Ribeiro, have questioned the manner in which the Delhi Police was probing the communal violence. The violence followed hate speeches by some BJP leaders, like Kapil Mishra, targeting widespread protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
According to a report in ThePrint, nine former IPS officers had written an open letter to Delhi Police commissioner pointing out the “flawed” investigation and seeking a re-investigation.
“The letter said that investigations and challans submitted by the Delhi Police with respect to the riots were “partisan and politically motivated”. This, it further said, has “pained all police officers (those serving and retired), who believe in upholding rule of law and the Constitution”, the report said.
Among the signatories of the letter were K. Saleem Ali, former special CBI director; A.S. Dulat, former OSD on Kashmir in the Prime Minister’s Office; Shafi Alam, former DG, National Crime Records Bureau; and Mohinderpal Aulakh, former DGP (jails) in the Punjab government; among others.
Over 200 eminent citizens, authors and academics, such as Noam Chomsky, Salman Rushdie, Amitava Ghosh among others, too, sought the release of Khalid, who they said has been “falsely implicated”.
Read Also: Delhi Riots: Activist Umar Khalid Arrested, Civil Society Slams Police ‘Fairy Tale’
“We call on the Government of India to free Umar Khalid and all those falsely implicated and unjustly incarcerated for protesting against the CAA-NRC that denies equal citizenship rights and to ensure that the Delhi Police investigates the Delhi riots with impartiality under the oath they took as public servants bound by the Constitution of India,” the statement read, as published in TheWire.
The Delhi Police has accused Khalid of “hatching a criminal conspiracy to cause communal unrest by inciting people who were protesting against CAA-NRC. He has been booked under several charges, including UAPA, sedition and conspiracy to commit murder.
However, so far, the police has reportedly not placed on record a single provocative speech made by Khalid, except some “disclosure” statements recorded under Section 161 of the CrPC and a ghost FIR (no. 59/2020) based on the complaint of an unnamed police informer, Newsclick had written on September 14.
According to an earlier report published by Scroll.in, a “survey of the various FIRs reveals that the case so far against Khalid rests heavily on allegations that his involvement in the protests were a part of a conspiracy to instigate riots – but offers little evidence to justify the jump in logic from the peaceful demonstrations against the discriminatory law to planning violence.”
Pointing out discrepancies, the report said that one FIR even claimed that Khalid had met other accused people on January 8 and told them to prepare for “something big/riots” for when US President Donald Trump visited India, while Trump’s visit was announced by the government February 11.
Incidentally, in June, the Kejriwal-led AAP government and the Delhi Lieutenant Governor had a tussle over the appointment of 11 special public prosecutors to investigate 24 cases of protests against the CAA. Following this, President Ram Nath Kovind approved the list of 11 special public prosecutors. The appointment was done under Section 24 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
However, all that ‘tussle’ and the LG seems to have come to a nought with the AAP government falling in line with the Home Ministry’s view on prosecution of Khalid under the draconian ant-terror law. It may be recalled that the Kejriwal government had to face heavy criticism for inaction and keeping silent over the communal violence rocked Delhi in February this year.
(With inputs from PTI)