The Delhi High Court while hearing the bail plea filed by Pinjra Tod activist Devangana Kalita asked the Delhi Police to show videos of her allegedly making instigating speeches during the violence that took place in the North East district of the national capital in February this year.
The Delhi Police informed the court that they did not have the videos of the time when Kalita was delivering such speeches while the riots were underway. The police however, said that videos of her allegedly instigating people through her speeches before the riots were available.
“I want to know what she said which instigated the mob,” said a single judge bench of the high court presided by Justice Suresh Kumar Kait.
The court said that the media was everywhere at that time and was also recording everything.
“Show me any portion of any speech recorded by media or anyone else which showed that the petitioner instigated the mob to commit a crime,” said Justice Kait.
During the course of hearing, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) S.V. Raju informed the bench that the media was not present there on February 25 when the said incident took place but the testimonies and accounts of the witnesses showed the Pinjra Tod member’s role in instigation of the mob.
He further argued that the same was done to tarnish the country’s image during the visit of Donald Trump, President of the United States of America.
“Public property was destroyed and a large number of people were injured and one person died,” the ASG argued.
Opposing the ASG’s arguments, senior advocate Kapil Sibbal said that the Delhi Police was only relying on the statements made by others. “Police were recording the protest site but aren’t showing the videos,” he added.
The arguments took place while the bench was hearing a petition filed by Kalita challenging a trial court’s order which had dismissed her bail application. The petitioner and another member Natasha Narwal were arrested in the case in May by the Crime Branch of the Delhi police and booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code including rioting, unlawful assembly and attempt to murder.
After hearing the arguments from both the parties, the court has now reserved its order.
The two women were also booked under the stringent sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in a separate case related to the communal violence.
Initially, Kalita was arrested on March 23 in an anti-CAA protest case related to Jafrabad in North-East Delhi but was granted bail thereafter. But soon after getting bail, she was arrested by Delhi Police on March 24 in another case and is now undergoing judicial custody.
Recently, a separate bench of the high court restricted the Delhi Police from issuing any press note regarding Devangana Kalita or any other accused in connection with the Delhi riots case till trial commences.
The police said that both Natasha and Devangana were actively involved in hatching the conspiracy to cause riots near the Jafrabad Metro Station in Delhi.
“They were also part of a larger conspiracy and were found to be connected to the ‘India Against Hate’ group and Umar Khalid. The message, found in the phone of an accused, on Whatsapp chat, reveals the conspiracy and the extent of preparation for causing riots,” the statement by the police added.