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‘I’m a victim of custodial violence’: Khalid Saifi tells HC in bail plea in 2020 Delhi riots case

Arguing Safi’s bail appeal senior advocate Rebecca John submitted before a special bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Rajnish Bhatnagar submitted that Saifi was beaten up the police in custody after he was arrested and was produced before the trial court in a wheelchair with a plaster on his feet.

Saifi and several others have been booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and provisions of the Indian Penal Code for allegedly being the "masterminds" of the February 2020 riots, which left 53 people dead and over 700 injured. (Express Photo)

United Against Hate member Khalid Saifi, booked in the 2020 North East Delhi riots “larger conspiracy case”, told the Delhi High Court on Monday that he is a “victim of custodial violence with no enquiry conducted by the police till this day”.

Arguing Safi’s bail appeal senior advocate Rebecca John submitted before a special bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Rajnish Bhatnagar submitted that Saifi was beaten up the police in custody after he was arrested and was produced before the trial court in a wheelchair with a plaster on his feet.

John vehemently opposed to the Delhi Police’s stand in its chargesheet that “injuries were caused during stone pelting” at Khureji Khas. She said, “we have got photographs. Saifi was waylaid by the Delhi Police…there was no crowd next to him. He is seen being taken to Police station in a perfectly fine condition”.

Saifi and several others have been booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and provisions of the Indian Penal Code for allegedly being the “masterminds” of the February 2020 riots, which left 53 people dead and over 700 injured, which erupted during the anti-CAA and NRC protests in the city.

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John thereafter referred to the messages in the Delhi Protest Support Group (DPSG) on whatsapp claiming that the Delhi Police has chosen to rely on it selectively. She read out messages which acknowledge that Saifi was trying to calm down protestors, where the sender of the specific message was a recipient of it.

Asserting on Khalid’s condition when he was produced in court John said,” This was a case of custodial torcher. This not a case of communal violence. If i instigated a mob how did I receive injuries…they (delhi police) covered it up by saying that he got it during patharaav. There is a video showing him (Saifi) walking to Jagatpuri police station without a scratch on him”.

“From Feburary 2020 to November 2022 he has been in custody. There is no answer on how he suffered these injuries…there was a gun shot fired…and people fell and received injuries but that is nothing compared to what happened inside jail (with me),” John asserted.

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John submitted, “I was on the protestors at Khureji protest site. Khureji was not a site of communal violence it was a place where protestors and the police crashed”. John argued that Khureji Khas never saw inter community violence, which was one of the reasons why Ishrat Jehan got bail on this very ground.

She contended that the same court (trial court) dealing with two people arrested from the same protest site have given contrary findings. With respect to bail granted to Jehan, John submitted that she is not contesting bail granted to Jehan but wished to use her bail order to her advantage.

On the DPSG whatsapp group John said, “the DPSG terrain is a complicated terrain. If prosecution relies on it to show my complicity, we can rely on it to show that I was subjected to custodial violence”.

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On Delhi Police’s stand that women were used and placed at the front of protest sites during the protests against Citizenship Amendment Act, John argued, “I take a strong objection to this statement. As if the women have no agency to protest in this country. As if we need men to tell us to ‘go in front and protest against the police action or State action’. This is a terribly problematic charge which appears throughout the chargesheet that auratun ko aage bitha diya. As though they are brainless women who don’t know what they were fighting for.”

The matter is listed on November 29 for further arguments.

First published on: 29-11-2022 at 10:24 IST
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