In a hearing for student activist Umar Khalid’s bail plea today, his lawyer claimed the “Delhi police had nothing but Republic TV and CNN-News18” for the case against Khalid, Bar & Bench.
The plea, being heard in a Delhi court, was regarding Khalid’s connection with the Delhi riots conspiracy case. He was arrested in September under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.
According to , Khalid’s advocate Trideep Pais said the Delhi police had sent notices to both the news channels, seeking raw footage recorded on the spot. Republic had replied saying the was not recorded by the channel’s cameraperson and was material tweeted by BJP's Amit Malviya.
News18 had also replied saying they didn’t have the raw footage and the video was obtained by a tweet from a BJP member.
In March 2020, that Khalid "gave a speech...where he exhorted a largely Muslim audience to come out on streets in huge numbers when Trump arrives in India". The police had claimed that the Delhi riots of February were part of a conspiracy to defame Modi to coincide with Trump's visit.
Newslaundry had how hours after Malviya’s tweet, several portals like Zee News, Republic TV and Times Now, and rightwing blog OpIndia, had picked up Malviya’s claims. A day after his tweet, Times of India too published a report that claimed that Khalid was “under the scanner of intelligence agencies” for the speech. The clip was quoted in Hindustan Times and India Today as well.
In the hearing today, Pais argued that the material was a YouTube video copied by a tweet and that the lack of journalism ethics displayed was the "death of journalism".
Khalid’s lawyer also pointed out that it made a “world of a difference that one sentence was taken out by News18” which he said was actually a message of unity based on Mahatma Gandhi.
“He is talking about democratic power. He refers to Mahatma Gandhi," Paid said. "He does not call for violence or violent methods. He speaks to you about the fears people went through about the violence in Jamia’s library." He added that Khalid had been framed by the press.
The lawyer also referred to a by the Quint, which pointed out a loophole in the police’s theory that a "big blast" during Trump’s visit to India was hatched in Shaheen Bagh on January 8.
The court adjourned the hearing for further arguments to September 3 and 6.