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Delhi Riots Case: Umar Khalid Denied Bail After 8 Months of Hearing

Umar Khalid is facing charges under the stringent and controversial anti-terror law UAPA. His bail application had been pending before the court for as long as eight months.
Delhi Riots Case: Umar Khalid Denied Bail After 8 Months of Hearing

Image Courtesy: PTI

A Delhi court on Thursday rejected activist and former Jawaharlal Nehru University student Umar Khalid’s bail plea in a case alleging larger conspiracy behind the Delhi riots of 2020, the Bar and Bench reported. 

The former JNU student leader is facing charges under the stringent and controversial Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. His bail application had been pending before the court for as long as eight months. The order was reserved on March 3 by Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat at the Karkardooma Court in Delhi and then deferred on three occasions -- March 14, 21 and 23 -- owing to different reasons.

Spanning over eight months, the bail hearings witnessed some interesting arguments by defence lawyer and Senior Counsel Trideep Pais, and Special Public Prosecutor Amit Prasad for the State.

Khalid was arrested on September 14, 2020, along with several other activists. He has been charged under the UAPA along with two students of Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia University – Meeran Haider and Safoora Zargar. The court granted Zargar bail in June 2020 on humanitarian grounds. But Haider remains in custody. 

The arrests were made after communal clashes broke out amid protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act and proposed National Register of Citizens in North East Delhi between February 23 and February 26 of 2020.

As many as 53 people lost their lives in the violence and hundreds were injured. The majority of the victims were Muslims.

In November 2020, amid legal experts and retired police officers questioning the way the Delhi Police was probing the communal violence, the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government gave its approval for Khalid’s prosecution under the UAPA.  

In the bail hearings over the past eight months, Khalid’s lawyer Trideep Pais had argued that the case against his client was borne out of malice and the chargesheet against him was an outcome of the "fertile imagination" of the police officer who drafted it. He had also submitted that the witness statements against Khalid were inconsistent, the Bar and Bench reported.

Referring to Khalid’s speech where he mentioned the visit of US President Donald Trump, the prosecutor’s argument followed the FIR’s line which alleged thatteh Delhi riots were pre-planned and a “conspiracy” was hatched by JNU student Umar Khalid and his accomplices. Explaining the alleged conspiracy, the FIR stated: “Umar Khalid made inflammatory speeches at two different places and appealed people to come out to streets and block roads (in the national capital) ahead of US President Donald Trump's proposed visit to India so that a message goes out to the international community that minorities in India are persecuted (sic).”

A section of netizens also reacted to the bail order by wondering why Khalid was denied bail while Hindu right-wing provocateurs with widely documented actions inciting violence and hate before the riots were let free.  

Some also questioned the prolonged bail hearing process in Khalid’s case.

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