“CAA/NRC protests prima facie terrorist act”: Delhi HC dismissing Umar’s bail plea

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday observed that the protest planned by young human rights defender Umar Khalid and others against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) was a premediated plan and would prima facie be covered by the definition of ‘terrorist act’ under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

The High Court’s observation comes while denying bail to Umar Khalid in the Delhi pogrom conspiracy case.

The protest was not a typical one but was far more destructive, noted the division bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Rajnish Bhatnagar.

“The protest planned was “not a typical protest” normal in political culture or democracy but one far more destructive and injurious geared towards extremely grave consequences”, said the bench.

The court went on to say: “The attack on police personnel by women protesters in front only followed by other ordinary people and engulfing the area into a riot is the epitome of such pre- mediated plan and as such the same would prima facie be covered by the definition of ‘terrorist act’…. Acts which threaten the unity and integrity of India and cause friction in communal harmony and creates terror in any section of the people, by disturbing the social-fabric is also a priori a terrorist act.”

The bench said: “First began by choking public roads, then violently and designedly attacking policemen and random members of the public, where firearms, acid bottles, stones were used. These protests and riots prima-facie seem to be orchestrated at the conspiratorial meetings held from December, 2019 till February, 2020.”

“Thus, as per the pre-meditated plan there was an intentional blocking of roads to cause inconvenience and disruption of the essential services to the life of community residing in North-East Delhi, creating thereby panic and an alarming sense of insecurity,” the Court said.

While denying bail to Khalid, the HC noted that the cumulative statement of the protected witnesses indicated the presence and active involvement of Khalid in the protests engineered against CAA/NRC.

Umar Khalid had moved the Delhi HC after he was denied bail by trial court on March 24. He has been booked under several provisions of the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), the Arms Act and the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act in Delhi Police’s ‘larger conspiracy case’ of the 2020 Northeast Delhi violence.

Khalid was arrested on September 13, 2020, and has been in custody since.