Anti-CAA protests: Sharjeel Imam denies inciting violence
(Sourced from PTI)
JNU student Sharjeel Imam, arrested for allegedly making inflammatory speeches during the protests against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register for Citizens (NRC), told a Delhi court on Monday that he cannot be hammered with sedition as his speeches did not call for violence. He has been arrested under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and sedition.
Imam has moved the court seeking bail in a case related to speeches made by him at two universities in 2019, where he allegedly threatened to cut off Assam and the rest of Northeast from India. During the hearing, advocate Tanveer Ahmed Mir, representing Imam, apprised Additional Sessions, Judge Amitabh Rawat, that no part of his speech called for any violence to be initiated.
"When Sharjeel Imam says that this piece of legislation (CAA/NRC) is unconstitutional, and seeks to persuade the government to rethink and says if you don't do it, we will be on the streets, he cannot be hammered by sedition," Imam's counsel asserted.
Mir said, "The right to protest, the right to blockade, and the right to bring the country to a standstill is not equal to an act of sedition." "The speech did not call for violence. He just called for a road blockade. He did not say that the northeast should become a different state and declare independence. That would have been seditious," he added.
Mir emphasized that Imam is not a member of any banned organization or terrorist gang but is merely a student. The alleged inflammatory speeches were made at Jamia Millia Islamia on December 13, 2019, and at Aligarh Muslim University on December 16, 2019. He is in judicial custody since January 28, 2020.
Imam is accused of offenses relating to sedition, promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, imputations prejudicial to national integration, and public mischief under the Indian Penal Code, and indulging in unlawful activities under the UAPA.
Delhi Police had filed a charge sheet against Imam alleging that he allegedly gave speeches inciting hatred, contempt, and disaffection towards the Central Government and instigated the people which led to the violence in December 2019. "In the garb of CAA, Imam exhorted people of a particular community to block highways leading to major cities and resort to chakka jaam," it added.
"Also, in the name of opposing CAA, he openly threatened to cut off Assam and other Northeastern states from the rest of the country," the charge sheet had said.