Nawaid Anjum | India Tomorrow
NEW DELHI, SEPTEMBER 3—Former Jawaharlal Nehru University student leader, young historian and activist Umar Khalid was questioned by the Delhi Police Crime Branch on Wednesday for over three hours in connection with the northeast Delhi riots, officials said Thursday.
The police asked Khalid about his whereabouts during the riots. Khalid, who was questioned at the Sunlight Colony police, has, meanwhile, accused the police of falsely implicating him in the case, citing instances of “witness coercion” in a letter he wrote to the Commissioner of Delhi Police, S N Shrivastava, on Tuesday.
On August 29, an acquaintance of Khalid was allegedly asked by the investigating officers of Delhi Police Special Cell to sign a statement that mentioned that Khalid advocated a “chakka jam” in Delhi at an “opportune moment” and promised the acquaintance money for the same.
Confirming the development, Khalid’s father, Syed Qasim Rasool Ilyas, told India Tomorrow on Thursday that Khalid was questioned by the police after the Crime Branch sent him a notice on Tuesday and asked him to come for questioning the next day. At 11.30 am on Wednesday, Khalid, who came to Sunlight Colony office accompanied by his family members and lawyer, was questioned by the police. “The police falsely suggested that Khalid was planning protests on January 26 and February 5, ahead of Trump’s visits. It’s completely false. Nobody knew about Trump’s visit on these dates. All of us in India got to know about his visit only on February 10. Khalid denied all these charges,” Ilyas said. He alleged that the police were trying to create false witnesses through coercion and intimidation. “They are trying to create a false narrative. This will not hold water in the court. The charges by the police in the statement are fabricated,” he said. “It’s strange that there are no charges against the real faces of the riot, but an innocent is being framed,” Ilyas said.
In a three-page letter to the Commissioner, Khalid claimed an acquaintance had met him on August 29 and told him that the investigating officers of the Special Cell gave him a pre-drafted statement against Khalid, which read: “A meeting took place on December 26, 2019 at Indian Social Institute, Lodhi Road. Jamia Coordination Committee, JNU, DU students and members of UAH (United Against Hate) were present there. I got to know that in different Muslim majority regions like Shaheen Bagh… protests have to be set up. And in these protests, women and children will be involved so that police are unable to take action. Umar Khalid said that at the opportune moment, we will organise a chakka jam in Delhi so that the Government is forced to withdraw this law (CAA). On December 28, Delhi Protest Support Group was created on WhatsApp.”
According to Khalid’s letter, when the man objected to signing the statement, officers threatened to change the statement and add that the man was also involved in planning a roadblock. The man told the police that this was not his statement. “They (officers) brought another form, which looked like an arrest memo with UAPA written over it. Showing him this form, they told him that he had to make a choice — he could either comply and go ahead with the pre-drafted statement without any deletions or he could sign the other form. He felt compelled to go ahead with the statement,” claimed Khalid in the letter.
He also wrote: “Police claim to have obtained a confession from (Tahir) Hussain, where he says that he met Khalid Saifi and me at the PFI office in Shaheen Bagh on January 8. This is absolutely false. I have never met Hussain or been to the PFI office. When I was questioned by the Delhi Police Special Cell on July 31, I was not even asked a single question about meeting Hussain.” The letter was sent to CP’s office and the Delhi Police PRO’s office.
Earlier, Khalid was booked under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) in another case related to the riots, along with Jamia media coordinator Safoora Zargar and RJD’s youth wing president Meeran Haider. He is accused of instigating the riots.
Last month, he was summoned by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police in connection with an alleged conspiracy behind the riots. The police had questioned him for three hours and also seized his phone.
Communal clashes had broken out in northeast Delhi on February 24 after violence between supporters of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and protesters spiralled out of control, leaving at least 53 people dead and around 200 injured.