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Arrested for anti-CAA protest but questioned about terrorism issues, says U.P. student activist

Sharjeel Usmani.  

After spending more than seven weeks behind bars in Aligarh, student activist Sharjeel Usmani walked out of the district jail on bail on September 1. While Mr. Usmani was arrested in connection with allegedly inciting students of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) during the protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act that led to a clash with police on December 15, 2019, he says during his interrogation the police barely touched the topic.

“My grievance is that I was arrested by the ATS (Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terrorism Squad). Their line of questioning was only about terror cases,” Mr. Usmani told The Hindu on phone.

The activist was picked up by the ATS from his native Azamgarh in July for his alleged role in the December, 15, 2019 violence. However, he says, to his surprise the ATS interrogation was focused on terror issues.

“Ten years ago, some alleged terrorist was nabbed in Nepal by RAW. What do you know about him? He was from your region. These were the type of questions I was asked,” Mr. Usmani said.

“They didn’t ask me anything on the CAA or the AMU violence. But asked me about Kashmir. Why are Kashmiri students so close to you, they asked,” he said.

AMU calls him ‘ex-student’

While the AMU refers to him as an ex-student, Mr. Usmani says that though he appeared for all his exams in 2019 he was yet to receive his degree.

He was released from jail after securing bail in four cases — three linked to the AMU and one about allegedly posting an objectionable photograph of senior BJP leader L.K. Advani on social media. His bail plea in a Goondas Act case is due to come up on September 7.

Mr. Usmani, whose father is a teacher in the AMU, further said: “The AMU or the protest didn’t come up even once [during interrogation]. They referred to the AMU only while referring to Kashmiri students.”

While granting him bail, special judge SC/ST Act Narendra Singh said that since the co-accused in the case had already been granted bail on March 19 and July 29, and Mr. Usmani himself secured bail in two cases, on July 29 and August 3, keeping him in jail “will definitely serve no purpose at all.”

The judge also noted that the academic records of the accused showed that he was a bright student and had written many articles for various portals.

“Therefore, in consideration of the undergone period in jail by the accused and his academic records, inter alia, the case is fit and proper to grant bail,” said the court.

Mr. Usmani was granted bail on condition that he would not tamper with evidence and will be present before the trial court personally or through his counsel when asked to.


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Printable version | Jun 22, 2021 2:05:58 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/arrested-for-anti-caa-protest-but-questioned-about-terrorism-issues-says-up-student-activist/article32511603.ece

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