“Is forming WhatsApp group of Muslim students a crime?” Umar Khalid’s lawyer asks court

Jailed activist Umar Khalid’s lawyer on Tuesday asked a Delhi court if forming a WhatsApp group of Muslim students amounted to terrorism.

Senior lawyer Tridpeep Pais made the comment during a hearing of Umar Khalid’s bail plea in a UAPA case related to the northeast Delhi pogrom that broke out in the national Capital in February last year.

In the 200-page chargesheet filed on November 22, the city police had alleged that the WhatsApp group was formed after Khalid mentored a group of students called “Muslim Students of JNU’ with the help of another activist Sharjeel Imam to incite violence.

Seeking bail in the case under draconian UAPA, Khalid’s lawyer argued before a Delhi Court that the entire chargesheet is a fertile imagination of Delhi Police having no sense of consistency, reported Live Law.

Reading out an allegation in the chargesheet which said that Umar Khalid asked Sharjeel Imam to make a Whatsapp group, lawyer Pais argued before Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat that constituting a WhatsApp group of Muslim students is not a terror.

Pais who called the chargesheet and allegations a ‘script’, said to court that the same has been nicely tied up so that the prosecution can paint all the accused with the same brush, Live Law report states.

Khalid’s lawyer went on to say: “All I’m saying is your wish to paint every accused in FIR 59 with same brush crumbles when you look at chargesheet. Do you have the sense of consistency in chargesheet? No. Did you get statements of witnesses from that group? Where do you get it from? You get it from your mind. Half of it is fertile imagination of IO and stript writers of this chargesheet.”

Also referring to the alleged “meeting to commit the riots”, he asks: “Is chakka jam an offence? Is a meeting to say that our protest will involve chakka jam automatically a criminal conspiracy?”

“None of this is said in this. Where does it say it’s a crime? This meeting has found itself on every news item, branded about like some great conspiracy,” he adds.

The matter will now be heard on November 2 and 8, according to Live Law.

Khalid, a former student of Jawaharlal Nehru University student leader and United Against Hate activist, was arrested along with several other activists after anti-Muslim program broke out in northeast Delhi between February 23 and February 26, 2020.

Others who were chargesheeted included former Congress Councilor Ishrat Jahan, Jamia Coordination Committee members Safoora Zargar, Meeran Haider, Asif Iqbal Tanha and Shifa-Ur-Rehman, JNU students and Pinjra Tod members Devangana Kalita and Natasha NFatima, student activist Gulfisha Fatima, suspended AAP Councilor Tahir Hussain, activist Khalid Saifi, Shadab Ahmed, Tasleem Ahmed, Salim Malik, Mohd Salim Khan and Athar Khan.