Salman Khurshid named by accused in Delhi riots chargesheet
Congress leader and former Union Minister Salman Khurshid has been named in the latest chargesheet filed by the Delhi Police in connection with the February riots in the city. Khurshid has been named in the disclosure statements of those accused. Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Politburo member Kavita Krishnan, student activist Kawalpreet Kaur, scientist Gauhar Raza and advocate Prashant Bhushan have also been named.
Khurshid named in Khalid Saifi, Ishrat Jahan's disclosure statements
According to The Indian Express, Khurshid's name appears in the disclosure statements of accused Khalid Saifi and former Congress councilor Ishrat Jahan. Separately, the statement made by a protected witness under CrPC Section 164 also mentions Khurshid as having made a provocative speech. Saifi's disclosure statement from March 30 reportedly states that he and Jahan had called Khurshid to deliver a "provocative speech."
'Those sitting on dharna would keep sitting for provocative speeches'
"Those sitting on dharna used to keep sitting for these provocative speeches (bhadkau bhashan) and they used to get the zeal to campaign against the government for the sake of their religion," the publication reported, quoting an excerpt from Saifi's disclosure statement.
'Provocation, mobilization not a criminal offense'
Khurshid told TIE, "If you pick up all the garbage there is, you'll end up with over 17,000 sheets of a chargesheet. A chargesheet is supposed to be distilled, authentic, effective, and useful evidence of a cognizable offense." He said not all speeches made by people had the same level of provocation adding, "Provocation and mobilization is not a criminal offense in this country."
Why has Raza been named in the chargesheet?
According to the statement of a protected witness, Raza "spoke wrong and objectionable things against CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act), NRC (National Register of Citizens) and the current government, and instigated Muslims." Standing by his remarks, Raza told TIE, "I'll keep on opposing [CAA] because I consider it to be an attack on the Constitution of India," adding that he has always been against violence.
Why has Bhushan been named in the chargesheet?
Bhushan allegedly delivered a speech at Khureji, according to the statements of Saifi and Jahan. In response, the lawyer told TIE, "This is a part of Delhi Police's strategy to gradually implicate any prominent person speaking in support of the protest against CAA." He admitted to having supported the anti-CAA protests and made speeches, however, he claimed that none of his speeches provoked violence.
Why has Kaur been named in the chargesheet?
Reportedly, student activist Kawalpreet Kaur has been mentioned in the original disclosure statement of Saifi dated May 25. In the statement, Saifi says he was in touch with Kaur and others to "plan with them" and get them to send "provocative messages/tweets" so that the "Muslim community feels angered toward the government and its policies due to religious reasons."
Why has Krishnan been named in the chargesheet?
Accused Shadab Ahmed's disclosure statement dated May 27 says that Krishnan, Kaur, and Umar Khalid's father SQR Ilyas made "provocative speeches" at the Chand Bagh protest site. Krishnan told TIE that her speeches are a matter of "public record and proud record." "The Delhi Police is trying to claim that this speech-making and meetings between activists, which is routine in Delhi, is some conspiracy."
None of my speeches talked about violence, says Kaur
Denying the allegations, Kaur said, "None of my speeches talked about violence. With regard to Saifi, I was not in touch with him on WhatsApp or other platforms. This is part of the larger witch hunt of activists dissenting against the government."
'Disclosure statements inadmissible in law because police use coercion'
Saifi's lawyer Harsh Bora said, "Disclosure statements are inadmissible in law because police use coercion to obtain signatures of an accused in its custody on fake disclosures that police have written on their own." Bora said they informed the court that Saifi was forced to sign "false statements and blank pages in custody." Ishrat's lawyer Pradeep Teotia claimed the police wrote her disclosure statement.
'Person not arraigned as accused based on disclosure statements'
Meanwhile, Delhi Police spokesperson Anil Mittal, in an official statement, had said, "A person is not arraigned as an accused only on the basis of the disclosure statement. However, it is only on the existence of sufficient corroborative evidence that further legal action is taken."