A Delhi court on Thursday granted bail to former JNU student Umar Khalid in connection with an FIR alleging “criminal conspiracy” in a north-east Delhi riots case.
The court questioned the rationale behind the police making a case of conspiracy against Mr. Khalid based on the statement of a public witness who allegedly saw him and former AAP councillor Tahir Hussain walk into a building at Shaheen Bagh on January 8 last year.
“If principal accused Tahir Hussain was moved or actuated by the applicant (Khalid) in meeting dated January 8, 2020, then the applicant should have been made co-accused in 10 other cases [in which Hussain in an accused] also which is not the case,” Additional Sessions Judge Vinod Yadav said.
Mr. Khalid was initially arrested on September 13, 2020 in another north-east Delhi riots case being probed by the Special Cell, where charges under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) have been invoked.
He was formally arrested in the present FIR on October 1, 2020, after seven months of registration of the FIR. Mr. Khalid will continue to remain in jail as he is yet to get bail in the UAPA case.
The present FIR was registered on the statement of a constable who was on duty on main Karawal Nagar Road near Chand Bagh Pulia on February 24, 2020. According to the FIR, arount 2 p.m., a large crowd gathered on the road and started pelting stones.
The constable ran to a nearby parking lot to save himself but the mob broke open the shutter and thrashed all the persons present inside. They set the vehicles parked there on fire.
The motorcycle of the constable was also burnt by the rioters. He somehow managed to save his life. After registration of the FIR, further investigation of the case was transferred to the Crime Branch.
Mr. Khalid in his bail plea argued that he had been falsely implicated in the matter by the investigating agency on account of “political vendetta to muzzle dissent”. The 33-year-old argued that he was not present at the scene of crime.
The Special Public Prosecutor, on the other hand, submitted that the case was “sensitive” in nature as it involved the riots that took place around the house of the main accused, Hussain. During investigation, it had emerged that there was a “deep-rooted conspiracy” which triggered communal riots in Delhi, the SSP said.
The court pointed out that the statement of the primary witness in the case merely talked of some meeting between Mr. Khalid, co-accused Hussain and Khalid Saifi. The same does not disclose about the subject matter of such meeting, said the court. Judge Yadav further highlighted that the same person was also a witness in the UAPA case. When the statement of this witness was recorded on May 21, last year in the UAPA case, “he did not utter a single word against” Mr. Khalid. “...Now all of a sudden”, he in his statement recorded on September 27, 2020, “blew the trumpet of criminal conspiracy” against the applicant, the Judge noted. “This prima facie does not appeal to the senses.”
Keeping in view that the investigation in the case is complete, chargesheet has already been filed and the trial is likely to take a long time, the court granted bail to Mr. Khalid.
“The applicant (Khalid) cannot be made to incarcerate in jail for infinity merely on account of the fact that other persons who were part of the riotous mob have to be identified and arrested in the matter,” the court said.