Jawaharlal Nehru University student Sharjeel Imam, who has been absconding after cases were lodged against him for making “seditious and inflammatory” speeches in Aligarh Muslim University on January 16 and other places, has been arrested from an area under the Kako police station in Jehanabad district of Bihar. Kako is his ancestral village. He has been booked under several sections of the IPC
“Yes, he has been arrested and police officials from Delhi have been interrogating him and right now the judicial process is on for his transit remand”, said Jitendra Kumar, Additional Director General of Police (headquarter), in Patna. “We provided active cooperation to the Delhi Police in Sharjeel Imam’s arrest”, he added.
Sources in Jehanabad, however, told The Hindu that Mr. Imam was taken into police custody from Mallik Tola under the Kako Police Station when he was on his way to surrender in a local court along with his lawyer in a vehicle.
Crime Branch officials of the Delhi Police, along with the Jehanabad police, have been conducting raids at his ancestral house for the last three days. On Monday, the police interrogated his younger brother, Muzameel Imam, and three other relatives to know about his whereabouts. On Sunday, the police searched Patna’s Muslim dominated Subzibagh and Phulwarisharief areas.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar told journalists that nobody should be allowed to make hate speeches against India. “Carrying out protests at different locations is one thing, but nobody can talk about the country’s disintegration. “Nobody should do anything that is not in the interest of the nation. The court will decide on the accusations and the arrest…law will take its own course”, he said. “The police must have acted according to the law”.
On Sunday, Mr. Imam’s mother told local journalists that her son was innocent and “his comments are being misconstrued”. “We’ve not brought up our sons like this…they can never ever say anything against the country… we’ve been born and brought up here…where we would go from this place?… ”
Mr. Imam’s uncle, Irshad Imam, said: “Taking mileage out of the Delhi Assembly elections, Sharjeel Imam’s comment is being misinterpreted and he is being hounded… out of his 40-minute video, only 4 seconds are being shown to accuse him”. “Is this fair to accuse someone as anti-national”, he asked.
Sharjeel’s father Akbar Imam, who is no more, contested the November 2005 Assembly elections on a JD(U) ticket from Jehanabad but lost the poll narrowly by 447 votes against RJD candidate S.N. Yadav.
People in the Kako area said the family was well educated and respected and Mr. Sharjeel Imam had been a bright student since childhood. He had done his Masters in Computer Science from IIT-Mumbai and was pursuing his Ph.D. from JNU in Historical Studies.