In a video message recorded before his arrest in connection with the Delhi riots, former Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student leader Umar Khalid alleged that the Centre and the police are framing the detractors who have raised their voice against "divisive" policies like the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC). The attempt is to silence them, Khalid added.
Khalid was arrested late on 13 September by the special cell of the Delhi Police under the stringentUnlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for his alleged role in the communal riots which took place in northeast Delhi in February this year. He was questioned for 11 hours before his arrest.
In the video, Khalid alleged that the Delhi Police, instead of arresting those who incited the violence, has turned the investigation into the riots into a hunt against those opposing the CAA-NRC.
"If you are watching this video, that means I have been arrested. I want to send you all a message through this video. The Delhi Police in its investigation into the Delhi riots is not catching those who instigated the riots. Far from registering an FIR against those who participated in the violence and those who instigated the violence " in front of television cameras, in front of the police " the police have not even called them for questioning. On the other hand, those criticising the government and its policies, especially the CAA and NRC, are being framed without any proof," he said.
" Kavita Krishnan (@kavita_krishnan) September 16, 2020
About 53 people were killed and over 200 injured when clashes between pro and ant-CAA protesters spiralled into communal riots in parts of north-east Delhi in February this year.
Khalid claimed that many students have been arrested and attempts have also been made to arrest him over the past few months.
The activist also referred to an edited video clip of his speech which had been made viral on social media with the claim that he had incited the violence and instigated people to come out and protest on the streets.
"In the 17-minute long speech, I was talking about Gandhi's messages of satyagraha and non-violence and not of riots or violence," he said.
He also claimed that people are being forced by the police into making false statements against him. "Attempts are being made to put those who criticize the government behind bars. What is it that I have done wrong? Is it that I said that the country is as much mine as it is yours?", he asked
"India is a beautiful country where people of different faiths, speaking different languages live together and are equal before the law. Today attempts are being made to change this; attempts are being made to divide us. And those who raise their voices against this politics of dividing the country, are being silenced," Khalid said.
He ended the video by appealing to people to not be scared and raise their voices against injustice.
"They may be scaring and silencing us (students and activists) but they are silencing you too. They are trying to imprison you in lies. Do not be scared. Demand the release of those who are being falsely implicated. Raise your voice against every atrocity," he said.
According to a Scroll report, the video was released at a press conference by activists and journalists in Delhi on Wednesday.
The police has alleged that Khalid had given provocative speeches at two different places and appealed to the citizens to come out on streets and block the roads during the visit of US President Donald Trump. This was done allegedly to spread propaganda about minorities in India being torutred at the international, the FIR stated.
The former JNU student leader, who has also been booked for sedition, murder, attempt to murder, promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion and rioting, was sent to 10-days police custody by a Delhi court on Monday.
The police sought his custody for 10 days saying that they wanted to question him about documents running into 11 lakh pages.
Khalid was earlier booked under the UAPA in another case related to the riots. He was also quizzed by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police earlier regarding an alleged conspiracy behind the riots and his mobile phone had been seized.
So far, police have arrested 1,575 people in 751 cases. Over 250 chargesheets have been filed in the riots related cases in which 1,153 accused have been charge-sheeted.
On Monday, the police also called Rahul Roy and documentary filmmaker Saba Dewan for questioning in connection with the case.
The names of CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury, Swaraj Abhiyan leader Yogendra Yadav, economist Jayati Ghosh and Delhi University professor Apoorvanand figured in a supplementary chargesheet filed by the Delhi Police and made public last week. They were named on the basis of based on the statements of the three students " women's collective Pinjra Tod members and JNU students Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal, and Gulfisha Fathima of Jamia Milia Islamia, who were arrested in connection with the riots.
The chargesheet claimed that apart from Yechury and Yogendra Yadav, Fathima's statement mentioned Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Ravan, Khalid and some leaders from the Muslim community including ex-MLA Mateen Ahmed, and MLA Amannatullah Khan.
Another JNU student, Sharjeel Imam, was also arrested under the UAPA in a case related to communal violence.
With inputs from PTI