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HC to hear bail pleas of Sharjeel Imam, Khalid Saifi, Others afresh in Delhi riots ‘conspiracy case’ in January

By Anwarulhaq Baig

New Delhi, Nov. 2, 2023:  The Delhi High Court will hear the bail pleas of activist Sharjeel Imam, United Against Hate founder Khalid Saifi, Meeran Haider, and others afresh in January 2024 in a North East Delhi riots 2020 case. They were booked by the police in the ‘larger conspiracy’ case related to the Delhi riots. Because Justice Siddharth Mridul, who was heading a special bench looking into the whole matter, has been recently elevated to chief justice of the Manipur High Court.

First hearing the bail petitions of Mohd Saleem Khan, Shifa ur Rehman, and Saleem Malik, the bench of Justices Mridul and Rajnish Bhatnagar had already reserved the verdict. Now, a new division bench comprising Justices Suresh Kumar Kait and Shailender Kaur will commence hearings in the whole matter afresh.

As many as 53 people, mostly Muslims were killed in the North East Delhi communal violence in February 2020. The Crime Branch of Delhi Police filed a first information report on March 6, 2020. Later, more than 700 FIRs were registered and hundreds of persons were detained or arrested.

In the communal violence that erupted in North East Delhi in February 2020, as many as 53 people, mostly Muslims, were killed. The Crime Branch of the Delhi Police had filed a first information report on March 6, 2020. Subsequently, more than 700 FIRs were registered, and hundreds of individuals were detained or arrested.

After the riots, the Delhi police booked many anti-CAA/NRC protesters, activists, and student leaders, including former JNU researcher Sharjeel Imam, former Aam Aadmi Party councillor Tahir Hussain, Umar Khalid, Khalid Saifi, former municipal councillor from the Congress Isharat Jahan, Rashtriya Janata Dal Youth Wing Leader Meeran Haider, Pinjra Tod activists Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal, Jamia Coordination Committee members Gulfisha Fatima, Safoora Zargar, Asif Iqbal Tanha, Shifa-Ur-Rehman, Shadab Ahmed, Tasleem Ahmed, Saleem Malik, Mohd. Saleem Khan, Athar Khan, and Faizan Khan, under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and provisions of the Indian Penal Code. While charging them, the police claimed that the riots were planned by the organizers of the anti-CAA/NRC protests as part of a larger conspiracy to defame the Modi government.

Several accused, including Ishrat Jahan, Asif Tanha, Devangana Kalita, and Natasha Narwal, were granted bail by the courts, but former JNU student leader Umar Khalid was denied bail in the same case last year.

The bench will also hear the police application, seeking cancellation of Ishrat’s bail.

Meanwhile, while acquitting Sandeep Kumar, a Delhi court condemned the police on Wednesday for wrongly merging 19 unrelated complaints in the same FIR related to a Delhi riots case.

Observing that none of the investigating officers even bothered to ask the two alleged eyewitnesses about the 19 other incidents, Additional Session Judge Pulastya Pramachala of Karkardooma Court said, “I also find that 19 additional complaints were wrongly clubbed in this FIR and were not completely and properly investigated.”

The complainant Shokeen’s house and shop were set on fire, and several articles and jewelry were looted by a mob during the 2020 riots. However, the police booked only Sandeep Kumar, who was, according to Shokeen, part of the mob. In the supplementary charge sheet, the police had labeled eight complainants as untraceable. The court acquitted Sandeep Kumar, stating that his presence at the crime scene could not be established, even though the incident of the riot, vandalism, and looting was confirmed.

Observing that it would be an injustice to the 19 additional complainants if the fate of their complaints were decided by the court in the present case, the court directed the Station House Officer of Karawal Nagar, where the riots erupted, to take up the additional 19 complaints for further probe separately.

Observing that it would be an injustice to the 19 additional complainants if the fate of their complaints were decided by the court in this case, the court directed the Station House Officer of Karawal Nagar, North East Delhi, where the riots erupted, to take up the additional 19 complaints for further probe separately.

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