JNU student Sharjeel Imam. (file photo)
JNU student Sharjeel Imam has been arrested in Bihar's Jahanabad by the Delhi Police on Tuesday. Imam had been booked for sedition by police of five states -- Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, New Delhi, Manipur -- for a speech he gave on January 16 at Aligarh Muslim University.
Bihar's Director General of Police Gupteshwar Pandey said Imam was arrested from his native Kako village in Jehanabad. He is likely to be produced before a Bihar court where police will seek his remand for questioning. It is not yet clear whether he will be questioned in Bihar or taken to the national capital.
In a tweet, Imam said he surrendered to Delhi Police and was willing to cooperate in the investigation. "I have surrendered to the Delhi Police on 28 1 2020 at 3 PM. I am ready and willing to operate with the investigation. I have full faith in due process of law. My safety and security are now in the hand of the Delhi Police. Let peace prevail," Imam tweeted.
Reacting to his arrest, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said "nobody can talk about country's disintegration". "Police must have acted according to law for wrongdoing. Protests are one thing, but nobody can talk about the country's disintegration," he told reporters.
I have surrendered to the Delhi Police on 28 1 2020 at 3 PM. I am ready and willing to to operate with the investigation. I have full faith in due process of law. My safety and security are now in the hand of Delhi Police.
Let peace prevail. pic.twitter.com/fTKeWY5hb8
— Sharjeel Imam (@_imaams) January 28, 2020
On Monday, the Delhi Police deployed at least five teams of the Crime Branch across three cities to look for him.
Meanwhile, the JNU Student Union (JNUSU) called Sharjeel's arrest 'selective amnesia' and a case of Islamophobia. "Arrest of JNU student Sharjeel Imam under draconian charges of sedition shows that Islamophobia, selective amnesia & bias matter more than anything for a state apparatus under control of RSS-BJP. BJP and RSS want to criminalise Muslims on an unprecedented scale," a statement issued by the union said.
In a video of his January 16 speech, Imam gave the example of a Kanhaiya Kumar rally in Bihar, where “around five lakh people turned up”, and said, “If we have five lakh people with us, we can cut off the Northeast from India. If not permanently, for one or two months. Put rubble on tracks and roads...Assam aur India katke alag ho jaaye, tabhi ye humari baat sunenge (Once Assam is cut off, then only they will listen to us)…We can do that because the Chicken’s Neck corridor (connecting Northeast to rest of India) is dominated by Muslims.”
He also called for more roads in Delhi to be blocked, like at Shaheen Bagh, to put pressure on the government.
Speaking to The Indian Express Saturday, Imam had said: “I was saying we should try to peacefully block roads wherever possible. In that context, I said you have to block roads going to Assam. It was basically a call for chakka jam.”
After police conducted searches at Imam's paternal village of Kako in Jehanabad district and detained three of his relatives for several hours on Sunday, Imam's mother said that her son was no thief or ruffian to run from the police.
“The statements of my son have been distorted and selectively played by the media. My son is not a ‘chor or uchakka (thief or ruffian)’ to run from the police. He is being vilified and harassed,” Imam’s mother, Afshan Raheem, said on Monday.
She said her son was only opposing the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and added that she had not been able to contact her son from several days.
“He is being framed. But we have faith in law of the land,” she told reporters in Jehanabad.
with PTI inputs