The Delhi Police on Tuesday booked Jamia Millia Islamia student leaders Meeran Haider, Safoora Zargar and former Jawaharlal Nehru University student leader Umar Khalid under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, or UAPA, in a case related to violence in North East Delhi in February.
According to Delhi police, Meeran Haider and Safoora Zargar, arrested for allegedly hatching a conspiracy to incite the communal riots in February. Both are in judicial custody.
On April 2, Police arrested Haider and days after on April 11, Safoora accusing their role of organizing an anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protest in localities of North East Delhi including Jaffrabad area. It was after the protest at the Jaffrabad Metro Station, the Hindu mobs conducted anti-Muslim pogrom in the area at the end of February.
The pogrom is widely acknowledged to have been sparked by incendiary comments made by Kapil Mishra, a BJP leader, about Muslims peacefully protesting against ‘anti-Muslim and unconstitutional’ citizenship law. Video evidence and witness accounts pointed to police allowing Hindu mobs to roam the streets freely to target the Muslim community.
In the first investigation report, Delhi police has claimed that “the communal violence was a premeditated conspiracy” which was allegedly hatched by Haider, Safoora and Khalid. The FIR also claims that in this conspiracy, firearms, petrol bombs, acid bottles and stones were collected at numerous homes.
Meeran Haider (29), a Ph.D. scholar at Jamia Milia Islamia, is also the president of RJD youth wing’s Delhi unit. Safoora, media coordinator of the Jamia Coordination Committee (JCC) is pursuing MPhil at Jamia Millia Islamia.
The students have also been booked for the offences of sedition, murder, attempt to murder, promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion and rioting, advocate Akram Khan who is representing Haider in the case told Maktoob.
“On Monday, Haider has been denied bail,” he added.
“There is no evidence to substantiate the allegations or even to connect my client to these riots at all,” Akram said.
“Haider was not even present and he was participating in the peaceful protests against CAA at Jamia Milia University.”
Many civil society groups, teachers associations, student organizations, and filmmakers had issued different statements calling for the release of Haider and Safoora.
“After the peaceful withdrawal of the anti-CAA protest by Jamia students in the wake of the global Corona Virus pandemic, the Delhi Police has begun a retaliatory revengeful action against those who were active in this movement,” activists said in a joint statement.
“What is particularly worrying in this entire context is that Safoora Zargar is pregnant and in this condition, she requires proper care and medical supervision. This kind of action during the lockdown due to the Coronavirus is a violation of their constitutional rights,” demand the organizations who drew the attention of “all compatriots who believe in democracy and secularism towards a very important issue”.
Earlier, the Jamia Coordination Committee (JCC), a group comprising students and alumni from the varsity, condemned the arrest and demanded his immediate release.
“The country is facing a massive health crisis, however, the state machinery is busy harassing and framing student activists in false cases to suppress voices of dissent,” they said.
With contributions from Jaseem PP, Delhi.