Police defend invoking UAPA against Sharjeel Imam

Sharjeel Imam

New Delhi, May 1 (IANS) The Delhi Police have told a city court that the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) was invoked against Jawaharlal Nehru University student Sharjeel Imam for inciting a particular religious community to disrupt the sovereignty of the country.

In a document accessed by IANS, the police told a Delhi court that speeches given by Sharjeel Imam were communal in nature, which caused serious communal strife and promoted enmity between various religious groups.

Imam came in the eye of the storm for giving “inflammatory” speech at Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) on December 13 and subsequently on January 16 at the Aligarh Muslim University, where he allegedly threatened to “cut off” Assam and the rest of the northeast from the country. He is currently lodged in a jail in Guwahati.

The police further said, “Sharjeel, in his speech, exhorted the audience of a particular religious community to disrupt the day-to-day life in all such cities where Muslims are in substantial numbers, in an organised manner. The speech clearly reflects that the accused has committed, advised and incited commission of unlawful activity. Hence, Section 13 of UAPA was added in the case.”

During the course of investigation, it emerged that the accused incited the members of the group comprising a religious community as also the individuals assembled to hear him, calling upon them to disrupt the sovereignty of India, the document stated.

The police said that after his speech on January 16, many protest sites started emerging in the city, which led to the initiation of riots in Delhi in February 2020.

Besides this, the police said that subsequent to his speech in Jamia on December 13, wide-spread arson and violence took place in various parts of Delhi.

During the course of investigation, Imam disclosed that he, along with his associates in JNU, had created a WhatsApp group by the name of ‘Muslim Students of JNU’.

The police stated in the document, “He (Imam), through the group, united and mobilised Muslim students of JNU and had convinced them to spread message among other Muslims that the ‘Bills’ are anti-Muslim and biased in nature. He also started spreading information that the government wants to keep Muslims in ‘detention centres’ under the garb of the CAA and NRC. His JNU friends were the core members of the group.”

The police also recovered three pamphlets from his e-mail which he had distributed in various mosques in Delhi and their adjoining areas. Another pamphlet was distributed by Imam in which he urged people to join the Jamia protest on December 13.

The Delhi Police had also requested the court to grant them 90-day extension to conclude the investigation into the case as members of the WhatsApp group — ‘Muslim students of JNU’ — were to be interrogated, his connection with Delhi riots had to be ascertained, his friends from Jamia needed to be interrogated and the person who initially shot the video of his speech at Jamia was yet to identified, which was duly allowed.

“The period of investigation for further 90 days, i.e. totaling to 180 days, is extended to conclude the investigation, as prayed for,” Judge Gurvinder Pak Singh stated in an order dated April 25.

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