Former JNU student Umar Khalid’s lawyer told a Delhi court that the police “wished to paint every accused with the same brush”. Senior advocate Trideep Pais made his arguments while arguing for Khalid’s bail in a northeast Delhi riots UAPA case before Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat, who adjourned the matter for further hearing on November 2. Pais began his arguments by stating that there are 17 different allegations against Khalid and that he will show how “UAPA is not made out” and the “allegations are implausible.” Pais told the court that “out of the blue comes an allegation” against him that a Whatsapp group comprising Muslim students was made under his direction.
“Constituting a group of Muslim students, is it terror? No,” Pais told the court. Pais submitted that Khalid never sent a single message on this group. “No communication between me and Sharjeel Imam…just being on a group is not a crime.” Pais relied on an extract of JNU student Sharjeel Imam’s speech to submit that he was critical of Khalid and Swaraj Abhiyan leader Yogendra Yadav. He submitted that the allegation that Imam was following instructions by Khalid seemed like a film script. Pais argued that Sharjeel “clearly doesn’t seem like a person who wants to do something on somebody’s dictation”. “Here is a man who says your political correctness and secularism is not something I profess…This is what Sharjeel is saying…script is nicely tied up. Can we paint these people in one brush? It looks like a film script. It is a bit of a joke,” Pais submitted. Pais told the court that the police “wished to paint every accused with the same brush crumbles when you look at chargesheet”. “Do you have the sense of consistency in charge-sheet? Did you get statements of witnesses from that group? Where do you get it from? You get it from your mind. Half of it is the fertile imagination of IO and scriptwriters of this chargesheet,” Pais argued. Pais argued that no witness says that Sharjeel Imam was introduced to Umar Khalid. “The officer who was writing this wants to have a story to tell you. However, he forgets that he is not a storyteller. He is dealing with the law. This is how you want to frame the people…This omniscient officer roaming around all of them has no statement. How is it constructive? Every assertion has a basis. This doesn’t have a basis,” Pais submitted. Pais then referred to a “secret meeting” which the police claimed took place between the accused and submitted, “Where does it say it’s a crime? This meeting has found itself on every news item, branded about like some great conspiracy…Imam, in fact, in the chargesheet refers to the meetings in this chat. If it was such a secret, why would he have mentioned it in a chat? Being a part of Whatsapp group is not an offence,” Pais submitted.