Screenshot of a video, shot by an eyewitness, accessed by NewsClick, in which Khalid Saifi (in yellow) can be seen surrounded by the police personnel on Wednesday.
On Wednesday, following the clearing of the anti-CAA protest site in East Delhi’s Khureji by the cops, out of the alleged 20-25 detainees, FIR was lodged against three, who are booked under several stringent sections of Indian Penal Code (IPC) including Section 307 (attempt to murder).
In the FIR filed on February 26, accessed by NewsClick, police named Ishrat Jahan, Khalid (who also goes by the name Khalid Saifi), and Sabu Ansari, accusing all of them of “provoking” people to stage unlawful assembly, obstructing police duty, firing at police staff and of stone-pelting.
The three have now been sent to a judicial custody of 14 days, after being produced in the Karkardooma district court on Wednesday.
While the FIR narrates how the three provoked the protesters to pelt stones, videos recorded by the eyewitnesses—accessed by NewsClick—help refute this claim and bolster their version of what really happened at the protest site.
The FIR states that the police team reached the protest site at noon during their flag march in the area. The team was met with crowd gathered on the roads, which was being “provoked” by Jahan, Khalid and Ansari, among others, to stage a sit-in on the road.
“Israt Jahan provoked the crowd… Khalid told the crowd to pelt stones on police and [so that] the police will leave, we will block their way… listening to which, Sabu Ansari along with others started pelting stones on the police staff which is when an individual from the crowd fired a shot,” said the FIR.
The police staff used tear gas and fired in the air to disperse the crowd. The stone-pelting by the crowd left one constable injured, the FIR added.
On the other hand, the eyewitness NewsClick spoke to didn’t mention anything about the shots being fired at the police staff. Confirming that the tear gas was used to disperse the protesters, the eyewitness, speaking to NewsClick, denied any scuffle between the police and the protesters, as mentioned in the FIR.
Nadeem Khan of United Against Hate (UOH), of which Khalid is the co-founder, told NewsClick that Khalid was not even present at the protest site when the police arrived.
“He (Khalid) was not even present at the protest site. He started from his home after finding out that the police are present at the protest site in Khureji,” Khan told NewsClick.
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According to Khan, as soon as Khalid reached the protest site, and approached the police, three to four personnel surrounded him and took him in their custody. NewsClick got access to two videos, shot by the eyewitnesses, which show that Khalid walked towards the police and then was surrounded by the personnel.
In another video posted on Twitter, male officers can be seen manhandling one of the women protesters, who, as per the audio that can be heard, is identified as Ishrat Jahan.
“We thought he, among others, has also been detained and will be released soon. However, now he is sent on a judicial custody on what can be said as ‘false charges’,” Nadeem told NewsClick.
On Sunday, residents in Khureji took to the streets and blocked the road, in a bid to escalate their agitation against the controversial amendment to the citizenship act, proposed exercise of preparing National Register of Citizens (NRC) and imminent National Population Register (NPR).
On Monday, according to an eyewitness on that day, Khalid was among those who persuaded the protesters to remove the road blockade.
“He (Khalid) spoke to the protesters and persuaded them not to block the roads. He was among those who got one side of the road, which was blocked, cleared on Monday,” said the eyewitness.
The eyewitness further added that the accusation of the police that Khalid was the one to provoke the crowd to come out on roads and block the way seems “completely false.”
Calls made by NewsClick to the SHO of the Jagatpuri police station remained unanswered.
‘To Harass Anti-CAA Protesters’
Terming the whole FIR “fictitious”, a lawyer privy to the development, who didn’t want to be named, said: “The police have not identified anyone in the FIR as the one who fired, and yet, these three have been charged with attempt to murder!”
The lawyer further added that the cases registered against the accused might not even stand judicial scrutiny as police slapped section 307 of IPC without even recovering any weapon from any of the three, at least as per the FIR.
Another lawyer told NewsClick that slapping stringent charges, is the way to “harass” anti-CAA protesters. “To get a bail is tough when charges such as attempt to murder are slapped. In fact, in the first attempt, it is nearly impossible,” the lawyer said, adding that “we are already getting information that he (Khalid) is brutally beaten up”.
Speaking on instances when Section 307 has been used “to harass anti-CAA protesters”, the lawyer said, “many booked by the Uttar Pradesh police under the section during the anti CAA protests in the state were granted bail later after the police failed to provide any evidence.”
The Delhi Police seem to have followed the trail of UP Police, as both are being accused of having used intimidation tactics and excessive force to deal with the anti-CAA protesters.
‘Police Not Allowing Delivery of Justice’
As terror was unleashed in parts of Delhi on Sunday, a number of anti-CAA protest sites in violence-hit parts were either attacked by mobs or forcibly cleared. After, Jafrabad, Chandbagh and Mustafabad, East Delhi’s Khureji’s protest site—where women were leading the protests—was cleared.
Explaining how the police are “not allowing to deliver justice” to the victims, especially those who have been protesting against CAA, NRC, NPR, the lawyer informed NewsClick that a large number of complaints are surfacing every now and then where the police are not allowing the lawyers to meet families of the victims or to visit the hospitals to meet the injured persons.
The lawyer NewsClick spoke to was among the eight lawyers—including women—who were beaten up on Wednesday at Jagatpuri Police Station, where they had gone to visit the detainees.
“A male cop slapped a woman lawyer and another lawyer thrice. Phone of another lawyer was snatched when attempts to record the incident were made. Our written applications to meet the detainees were torn apart and we were asked to leave the station premises,” the lawyer said as he shuddered, adding that if this happens to lawyers, one can imagine what must be happening to those who are in their custody.
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