New Delhi, India – Rights group Amnesty Worldwide has described India’s repeated denial of bail to jailed Muslim activist Umar Khalid as a “massive blow” to these exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceable meeting within the Hindu-majority nation.
Khalid, 34, together with greater than a dozen different Muslims, is accused by the Indian authorities of being a part of a “bigger conspiracy” that led to non secular riots in New Delhi in February 2020 which left 53 individuals lifeless, most of them Muslims, and dozens of homes and mosques torched.
The riots – the worst the Indian capital had seen in a long time – adopted peaceable sit-ins throughout the nation, primarily organised by Muslim ladies, in opposition to the passage of the controversial Citizenship Modification Act (CAA) by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s right-wing authorities in late 2019.
Critics mentioned the CAA, which fast-tracked Indian citizenship for non-Muslim refugees from India’s neighbouring nations, violated India’s secular structure.
The Muslim resistance to the legislation triggered hate speeches in opposition to the neighborhood by ministers and politicians belonging to Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Occasion (BJP) and different Hindu teams, which led to assaults on Muslims dwelling within the japanese elements of New Delhi.
The Delhi police, who’re managed by the federal authorities, accused Khalid of being a “key conspirator” and one of many “masterminds” of the riots. He was arrested on September 13, 2020 beneath the Illegal Actions (Prevention) Act, or UAPA, a draconian anti-terror legislation characterised by stringent bail provisions, amongst different prices.
The activist, who was additionally jailed briefly for “sedition” in 2016 when he was a scholar at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru College, has denied any involvement within the Delhi violence.
Nonetheless, the Delhi courtroom on Thursday mentioned there are “cheap grounds” to imagine that the allegations in opposition to him are “prima facie true” and “therefore, the current utility for bail of accused Umar Khalid stands dismissed”.
In an announcement shortly after the bail was denied, Amnesty India’s chief Aakar Patel mentioned: “Umar’s continued detention for over 18 months comes in opposition to the backdrop of a quickly shrinking area for important voices and units a chilling precedent for anybody whose views the authorities disagree with.”
Our assertion on the denial of bail to Umar Khalid pic.twitter.com/aQOgs9CvZE
— Amnesty India (@AIIndia) March 24, 2022
In keeping with information web site livelaw.in, Khalid’s lawyer Trideep Pais informed the courtroom the police cost sheet in opposition to his consumer was a “fabrication” and primarily based on video clips run by two information channels that aired a “truncated model of (a) speech” Khalid made in the course of the anti-CAA protests.
Khalid’s father, Syed Qasim Rasool Ilyas, mentioned he was disenchanted with one more denial of bail to his son and that the order will likely be challenged in the next courtroom.
“I’m disenchanted with the denial of bail to Umar Khalid after three postponements,” Ilyas informed Al Jazeera, including that his son was not even current in New Delhi when the riots happened – a competition additionally raised by Khalid’s lawyer in courtroom.
In reply, the courtroom mentioned a “conspiracy” doesn’t require the accused to be current on the spot.
“The witnesses produced by the courtroom, whose identification was not revealed, contradicted their very own statements. All the cost sheet in opposition to Umar is fabricated, false and concocted by the Delhi Police,” Ilyas mentioned.
“Our lawyer very properly mentioned in courtroom that it nearly looks like a script of a TV present.”
Your life is unsure if you’re a Muslim on this nation. In case you are a pondering, articulate, rights exercising Muslim, you’re handled as a menace to the state. Not often ll the courts stand in your freedom. Denial of bail to Umar Khalid is one more instance.
— Apoorvanand अपूर्वानंद (@Apoorvanand__) March 25, 2022
In its cost sheet, the Delhi Police additionally claimed the Delhi violence was a part of “a well-planned conspiracy” to defame Modi’s authorities and put dozens of scholars and activists behind bars, most of them beneath the stringent UAPA.
“What a disgrace that the state nonetheless makes use of colonial draconian legal guidelines to jail dissenters,” activist and poet Nabiya Khan wrote on Twitter. “It additionally reveals that the battle for fact and justice is an extended one and can proceed.”
New Delhi-based activist Shabnam Hashmi informed Al Jazeera the denial of bail to Khalid was an “absolute travesty of justice”.
“These accountable for hate-mongering and giving these speeches are roaming free. We condemn this,” she mentioned.
“There is no such thing as a purpose why he (Khalid) must be saved behind bars which means that there is no such thing as a area without cost speech or peaceable meeting in current India.”
In its assertion, Amnesty mentioned Khalid’s continued detention beneath the UAPA “runs completely counter to the worldwide human rights legislation and requirements” and referred to as on the Indian authorities to “instantly and unconditionally” launch him and different human rights defenders “arbitrarily detained solely for expressing their opposition”.