The plot of Family Man, comparisons to Voldemort, gazing into a crystal ball – this is how Umar Khalid’s lawyer characterised the chargesheet filed by the Delhi police against the student activist in connection with the Delhi riots conspiracy case.
During Khalid’s bail hearing at a Delhi court today, his advocate Trideep Pais said that statements in the chargesheet were a “figment of [the] imagination” of the officer who drafted it. These statements, he said, when handed to the media, were “shaped” as truth to form public opinion against Khalid.
Khalid’s bail plea was being heard by additional sessions judge Amitabh Rawat. He was arrested in September under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for his alleged role in the violence in Delhi last February.
Referring to the chargesheet, Pais told the court, “This reads like a 9 pm script of shouting news channels.” He read out several statements – how Khalid was a “veteran of sedition” and the “silent whisper behind the first phase of the riots that took place in 2019” – and pointed out that this “rubbish” was being repeatedly parroted by the media as “proof”.
There were three kinds of material in the police chargesheet against Khalid, Pais said, and all three were false.
The first was a speech Khalid gave in Amravati on February 17, 2020 which is being treated as “evidence” of a conspiracy. on August 23, Pais had told the court that the police had relied on footage from Republic TV and News18. Both channels, in turn, had obtained the footage from a tweet by BJP’s Amit Malviya.
“When something has not happened, and you show that something bad has happened, you show it on TV,” Pais said today. “Why I’m emphasising on TV is because this seems to be driven by that.”
The second material Pais pointed out was rhetorical observations in the chargesheet which, he said, were a result of the “fertile imagination of the police officer”.
The third, he said, was inconsistent witness statements.
The chargesheet cited a 2016 case against Khalid for “anti-India” sloganeering at Jawaharlal Nehru University. It noted that Khalid “was the harbinger” of the call “Bharat tere tukde honge, inshahallah inshallah” and that he had travelled from then to this present “criminal conspiracy to commit a terror act” where the battle cry was “tera mera Rishta kya, la ilaha illallah”.
Khalid’s lawyer said there was no chargesheet, including the chargesheet filed in 2016 by the same police, that alleged that Khalid had made such statements.
“What happened in 2016 was that there was a poetry session,” he said. “It was later termed as sedition. Nowhere was it ever alleged that ‘Bharat tere tukde honge’ was ever said by Umar Khalid..."
Pais continued, “You didn’t have it in the first chargesheet so how do you produce it here? If you were truthful, you would have placed the chargesheet as annexure...Where you could have given proof, you don’t give it. Because you’re lying.”
The chargesheet said that Khalid was “still bearing a façade of secular, progressive activism”. Pais argued that it read like the “script of news channels” who say whatever they want without any responsibility.
Calling the chargesheet’s claims “propaganda”, Pais emphasised that repeated references of Khalid being communal had no basis, even though the idea of it was being constantly drilled into people’s heads. For instance, the chargesheet said Khalid planned to “keep a safe physical distance” from Delhi once the violence broke out in order to “create a perfect alibi”. Pais said there was nothing to support this claim but the media was reporting on it as proof.
Another part of the chargesheet said that with Khalid’s “intellectual acumen, he knew very well that a large majority of Indian Muslims will never prescribe to the perverted definition of Islam being espoused by his disciple Sharjeel Imam and no amount of rhetoric and obfuscation of facts will be enough to brainwash the Indian Muslims to actually believing that CAA would question their nationality. ”
Asking where this was from, Pais said the police were making Khalid a criminal just to propagate their agenda, and to build a narrative that “Islam” and “masjid” are “bad words”.
Pais also pointed out the “inconsistent statements” of a certain protected witness, claiming that the witness either spoke under pressure or “with a forked tongue”. “Malice is a given in this FIR,” Pais said. “There is no way these statements are consistent with each other in order to meet the test of UAPA.”
The matter was adjourned to Monday, September 6.
A weekly guide to the best of our stories from our editors and reporters. Note: Skip if you're a subscriber. All subscribers get a weekly, subscriber-only newsletter by default.