Updated: April 28, 2020 1:16:09 pm
The Delhi Police Special Cell has arrested the president of the Alumni Association of Jamia Millia Islamia (AAJMI), Shifa-Ur-Rehman (43), under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in connection with the February Northeast Delhi riots.
A Delhi court Monday sent Rehman, also a member of the Jamia Coordination Committee (JCC), to 10-day police custody. Police have alleged Rehman’s speeches had contributed to the riots. Commercial District Judge Sanjiv Jain allowed the Special Cell to quiz Rehman in custody.
Police told the court that during the course of investigation of some other arrested accused, names of more people had emerged who needed to be questioned at length.
“Huge money was also funded as well as spent by the conspirators to carry out these riots in Delhi,” police contended before the court, seeking 12-day police remand. Noting that the charges are serious in nature, Judge Jain remanded him in police custody.
The Indian Express had reported on April 25 that Delhi Police are exploring action against several members of the Popular Front of India (PFI), the JCC, Pinjra Tod, All India Students’ Association (AISA) as well as former and current students of Delhi University and JNU under the UAPA Act.
Investigators contended before a court that Rehman’s custodial interrogation was required as he was allegedly found “involved in providing help in setting up anti-CAA/NPR/NRC protest at various sites in Delhi, giving hatred speeches at various protest site — Shaheen Bagh, Seelampur, Khureji, Inderlok and Hauz Rani in front of huge gathering of public in order to instigate them against the government of India and other communities, which led to recent riots”.
The counsel for the accused opposed the remand and said his client has been falsely implicated in the case and there is no evidence against him. But police claimed before the court that apart from organising protests at various sites, funding had been received from Gulf countries, used to procure weapons/explosives and create riots at various places, resulting in huge loss of lives and property.
Two weeks ago, UAPA was invoked against former JNU student Umar Khalid, Jamia student and RJD’s youth wing president Meeran Haider, JCC media coordinator Safoora Zargar, and Danish, a resident of Northeast Delhi’s Bhajanpura.
This is the fifth arrest in connection with the riots since the lockdown was announced — police had earlier arrested Zargar, Haider, former Congress councillor Ishrat Jahan and activist Khalid Saifi.
Sources close to Rehman said he was with his family at his hometown in Uttar Pradesh when he was contacted by the New Delhi range of Special Cell. “He was asked to join the investigation. Police told him they wanted to ask him some questions related to the FIRs, for which he was called to Mawana in Meerut yesterday afternoon,” a relative said.
“He was assured he would be allowed to go back home but instead he was taken to Delhi and arrested from his home in Ghaffar Manzil at night. He wasn’t even active in the anti-CAA protests in Northeast Delhi, so we can’t understand why it’s happening,” the relative alleged.
Several calls were made to AAJMI office bearers, but their phones were switched off.
Following Zargar’s arrest earlier this month, 26 civil rights activists and political leaders had condemned the “arbitrary arrests” of the Jamia students, and alleged that police were “abusing” their powers by arresting those critical of government policies under the “cover” of the lockdown.
The Delhi Police, on the other hand, tweeted on April 20: “While investigating Jamia and NE riot cases, Delhi Police has done its job sincerely and impartially. All arrests have been made based on scientific and forensic evidence.”
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