NEW DELHI: A Delhi court on Saturday discharged student activists Sharjeel Imam, Safoora Zargar, Asif Iqbal Tanha, and eight others in a case connected to incidents of violence at Jamia Millia Islamia university in Dec 2019.
Mr Imam will, however, remain in custody in another case he shares with former Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student leader Umar Khalid under the more stringent anti-terror laws known as the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), The Hindu newspaper reported.
The court order on Saturday said the Delhi police had made the 11 student activists scapegoats, and that there was no prima facie evidence that the accused were part of the mob violence, had any weapon, or were throwing stones. An FIR had been lodged against them alleging offences of rioting and unlawful assembly during the protests against the Citizen Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens that year.
The court maintained that the police could not apprehend the “actual perpetrators”, and that the charge sheets filed by the police were “ill-conceived”. Alluding to Article 19 of the Constitution of India, it said: “Dissent is an extension of the right to freedom of speech and expression. It is therefore a right which we are sworn to uphold.”
Court raps police for scapegoating activists and failing to arrest ‘actual perpetrators’ in 2019 case
Additional Sessions Judge (Saket Court) Arul Varma was hearing the case, in which 12 persons were booked by the Delhi police in the Jamia violence case.
The court also said that there was a need for investigative agencies to discern the difference between dissent and insurrection.
The court discharged Mohammad Qasim, Mahmood Anwar, Shahzar Raza Khan, Abuzar, Shoaib, Umair Ahmad, Bilal Nadeem, Sharjeel Imam, Asif Iqbal Tanha, Chanda Yadav and Safoora Zargar.
However, the court framed charges against Ilyas as photographs of him hurling a burning tyre have been clearly shown in a newspaper.
Published in Dawn, February 5th, 2023