Anti-CAA stir meant to provoke disaffection against India: Delhi court while denying bail to Asif Iqbal Tanha

On Tuesday, a Delhi court denied bail to Asif Iqbal Tanha, student leader at Jamia Millia Islamia, saying that “vociferous agitation in the guise of Citizen Amendment Bill coupled with other activities of violence would show it was meant to cause or intended to cause disaffection against India”, Indian Express reported.

According to the Indian express, “Police have accused Tanha of conspiring with former JNU student Umar Khalid and JNU student Sharjeel Imam to “overthrow the Government” by setting up a chakka jam (road blockade) in Muslim-dominated areas. Police have alleged that

Tanha used fake documents to buy a mobile phone SIM to use in the riots. This SIM was subsequently provided to another Jamia student and co-accused Safoora Zargar to organise further protests, police have said.”

27-year-old Asif Iqbal Tanha has been denied bail for the second time. He has been charged in the Northeast Delhi riot conspiracy case under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

“Acts which threaten the unity and integrity of India, …causing social disharmony and creating terror in any section of the people, by making them feel surrounded resulting in violence, is also a terrorist act”, Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat noted, when Tanha’s lawyer Sidharth Aggarwal argued that organisations such as the Jamia Coordination Committee (which organised protests against citizenship law) or the Students Islamic Organization (SIO) were not terrorist organisations under the UAPA.

Although these groups were not prohibited under UAPA, ASJ Rawat noted that, as per Section 15 (“Terrorist Act”) of the Act, “we must understand terrorist activity.”

“…The entire conspiracy beginning from December 2019 of intentionally blocking roads to cause inconvenience and causing disrupting of the supplies of services… resulting in violence with various means and then leading to February incident with the focus being targeted blocking of roads at mixed population areas and creating panic and attack on police personnel with facade of women protesters in front and leading to riots would be covered by the definition of terrorist act,” the court stated in the order.
“Acts which threaten the unity and integrity of India, in as much as causing social disharmony and creating terror in any section of the people, by making them feel surrounded resulting in violence, is also a terrorist act.”

The court also said it was not at all essential that every aspect of the conspiracy should be known to all the conspirators. “Conspiracy has to be read as a whole and not piecemeal. Moreover, the question of presence of accused at the site in North-East Delhi at the time of riots is not a sine qua non for a conspiracy case. Hence, the provisions of UAPA have been rightly invoked in the present case,” it said.

ASJ Rawat emphasised that “in unequivocal terms that there is freedom to protest available to all the citizens of the country but that is subject to reasonable restrictions.”

According to the court, “There is also no manner of doubt that every citizen can hold an opinion about any legislation which they construe as unfair in their understanding”, and all citizens have “the right to protest against any law”. Nevertheless, “What actually has to be seen in the context of the present case is whether there was a conspiracy which led to riots under the guise of protest against CAA or not, in terms of the contents of the chargesheet.”

While speaking to Maktoob, Asif’s mother Jahan Araa and father Mujeebullah blamed the media and police for false accusations.

Asif, who is also a leader of SIO, has been a prominent figure in the anti-CAA protest that erupted last winter

Asif’s parents denied the police charges against their son and asserted that there is nothing wrong with participating in protests.