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Leftists and Islamists celebrate Sharjeel Imam’s bail in one case: Here is why he will remain in jail in the larger conspiracy case of Delhi anti-Hindu Riots

The Delhi Riots chargesheet number 59, which spans over 16,000 pages, tracks in excruciating detail the conspiracy to foment riots and unrest that started shaping on the 5th of December, a day after the Citizenship Amendment Bill was tabled in parliament. 

On Wednesday (29th May), mainstream media widely reported that the Delhi High Court has granted statutory bail to Sharjeel Imam in a UAPA and sedition case. The case relates to his inflammatory speeches delivered against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in AMU and the Jamia area in the National Capital pertaining to FIR 22/2020. He will remain in jail in the larger conspiracy case in Delhi anti-Hindu Riots, which is FIR 59/2020. 

A division bench comprising Justice Suresh Kumar Kait and Justice Manoj Jain allowed his bail plea. He had sought relief under Section 436A of the CrPC on the ground that the accused had undergone half of the maximum seven years of punishment. He had approached the High Court to challenge the trial court’s order which denied him statutory bail in the case. 

Representing Sharjeel Imam, Advocate Talib Mustafa submitted that Imam has already undergone four years and seven months of incarceration out of the seven years of maximum imprisonment.

However, Special Public Prosecutor Rajat Nair, representing the Delhi Police, opposed the plea on the ground that Imam had not undergone half sentence. He said that Imam’s case was squarely covered by the Explanation to Section 436A of CrPC and therefore, he was not entitled to any statutory bail. He pointed out that the delay in pre-trial detention was solely because Imam requested the trial stay in 2022. The court, however, allowed his plea after taking note of various lists of dates, including the date of framing of charges and examination of witnesses.

Following the media reports about Sharjeel Imam getting bail, several leftists and Islamists started prematurely celebrating the development. They projected it as a major relief to the sedition accused with some media outlets and X users referring to him as a “Student” and “Activist” among others. Some users alleged that it would cause “heartburn” among the non-leftist and non-Islamists.

One user wrote, “Now RW and IT Cell trolls will have heartburn in the middle of heatwave.”

Some users tried projecting the sedition accused as a ‘hero’.

However, it is pertinent to note that most of the outlets and X users have done selective reporting on the issue as they have failed to highlight the fact that Sharjeel will have to remain in jail as he got relief only in one case FIR 20/22.

Flagging MSM’s selective reporting, OpIndia Editor-in-Chief Nupur J Sharma highlighted that the court granted him relief only on the ground that as an undertrial he had served one-half of the maximum punishment for that crime, however, the statutory bail is not on merits. Additionally, he will continue to remain in jail as he is also an accused in the larger conspiracy case in relation to the Delhi riots of 2020.”

Notably, except for the Bar and Bench report which notes that Imam will continue to remain in jail as he is also an accused in the larger conspiracy case in the anti-Hindu Delhi riots 2020, other media houses have not reported it. Bar and Bench too, before they published the report, had not included this information in their tweet update. Additionally, several X users have lambasted NDTV and others for referring to the sedition accused as ‘Activist’.

The trial court made scathing observations in this case (FIR 20/22) regarding his inflammatory speeches 

While the High Court has granted him bail under Section 436A of the CrPC, the trial court on 17th February, this year, had dismissed his plea observing that his speeches and activities “mobilised the public” which disrupted the national capital and might be the main reason for the outbreak of the 2020 riots. 

Regarding Imam’s counsel’s argument that he should be granted bail under Section 436A, the trial court had ruled that the accused’s custody could be extended for a further period in “exceptional circumstances” after hearing the prosecution’s case before dismissing his bail plea on this ground. 

The Delhi Police Special Branch had booked him under FIR 22 of 2020. The case was initially registered for the offence of sedition and Section 13 of UAPA was invoked later. 

He has been in custody in this case since 28th January 2020. 

The trial court had said, “Although the applicant did not ask anybody to pick the weapons and kill the people, his speeches and activities mobilised the public which disrupted the city and might be the main reason in the outbreak of the riots. Further, through inflammatory speeches and social media, the applicant skillfully manipulated the real facts and incited the public in order to create havoc in the city.” 

In his order, Additional Sessions Judge Sameer Bajpai of Karkardooma court said, “Imam’s speeches were so powerful that it captured the imagination of the people belonging to a particular community and incited them to take part in disruptive activities which finally resulted in the riots.”

The judge further stated, “Finally, just after the speeches and the alleged activities of the applicant, on different dates and places, the riots occurred causing violence, huge damage to the public property, and death of a large number of people.” 

In this FIR, the court had framed charges against Imam in January last year. He has been charged for the offences under Section 124A (sedition), 153A(Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, etc.), 153B (Imputations, assertions prejudicial to national-integration), 505 (Statements conducing to public mischief) of the IPC along with Section 13 (Punishment for unlawful activities) of the UAPA.

Conspiracy case in the anti-Hindu Delhi riots

Imam was arrested in 2020 from Jehanabad, Bihar. He is a former Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, and one of the key members of the group that organized Shaheen Bagh protests against CAA. Multiple FIRs were filed against Imam for a speech in which he allegedly asked the protestors to cut off Assam from India. FIRs were filed at Police stations in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur. He also got bail in the cases filed at Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.

Subsequently, Imam was charge-sheeted as one of the main masterminds of the Delhi anti-Hindu riots and charged under the stringent UAPA. In an over 15,000-page chargesheet filed, the Delhi Police traced in painstaking detail how Sharjeel Imam, Umar Khalid and several others masterminded the Delhi violence since the 5th of December 2019.

Sharjeel Imam’s involvement in the planning of the riots

The Delhi Riots chargesheet number 59, which spans over 16,000 pages, tracks in excruciating detail the conspiracy to foment riots and unrest that started shaping on the 5th of December, a day after the Citizenship Amendment Bill was tabled in parliament. 

On 5th December, Sharjeel Imam made WhatsApp groups of Muslim students and on the 6th of December, he started distributing pamphlets in mosques. Pamphlets which were written by Sharjeel Imam himself were distributed in the Jama Masjid area by the MSJ group. This fact was revealed by the chats recovered between Sharjeel Imam and Arshad Warsi. The pamphlets were communal and essentially aimed to incite hate in the Muslim community by invoking the Supreme Court decision in the Ram Janmabhoomi case. Some of the pamphlets read “Law of Allah above all else” and “The command of Allah is above every law”. The pamphlets had misinformation about CAB and also, spoke about the destruction of the illegal structure previously on Ram Janmabhoomi, called Babri.

Several meetings were held between these “intellectuals” who were spreading fake news against CAB. On the 8th of December, this meeting was held, a picture of which is added to the chargesheet. The “minutes of the meeting” was shared in WhatsApp groups made by Sharjeel Imam (who was present at these meetings). Click here, to read in details about the involvement of other actors in this conspiracy and the details about the individuals who were part of that CAB team meeting. 

Sharjeel Imam’s involvement in the planning of the riot is, therefore, not a mystery. He was involved right from the start in the planning of the violence and also incitement through his seditious speeches. 

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Paurush Gupta
Paurush Gupta
Proud Bhartiya, Hindu, Karma believer. Accidental Journalist who loves to read and write. Keen observer of National Politics and Geopolitics. Cinephile.

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