Umar Khalid sent to 14-day judicial custody in northeast Delhi riots case

Former JNU student leader Umar Khalid has been sent to judicial custody for 14 days in a case relating to the communal violence in northeast Delhi in February this year. The Delhi court has also directed prison authorities to provide him adequate security.

Khalid was arrested under the stringent anti-terror law — Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act– in a separate case related to a larger conspiracy in the northeast Delhi riots.

Metropolitan Magistrate Dev Saroha sent him to jail after he was produced before the judge on expiry of his police custody in the case related to riots in Khajuri Khas area.

The court directed the Jail Superintendent to provide adequate security to Khalid while taking proper precautions that no harm should be caused to him.

It had earlier sent him to police custody for three days in the case.

In an application filed through his counsel advocate Trideep Pais, Khalid sought adequate security in prison so that he is not harmed by anyone in judicial custody.

In the plea, Pais sought that Khalid may be permitted to communicate with his family, friends and relatives in accordance with jail rules.

Khalid also submitted that he has not signed any statements or documents during his police custody.

The application sought permission for two legal interviews a week with his counsel using video conferencing facility for at least 30 minutes on each occasion outside the audible range of prison officials.

Khalid requested for headphones to maintain privacy of his conversation between him and his counsel and the facility to share screen on the Cisco Webex platform.

He sought permission to leave his cell early morning and be locked up at dusk in compliance with the Delhi prison rules, 2018, with adequate security arrangements and not to be confined to his cell for extended period of time.

The application further said that he may be permitted to keep his spectacles while in judicial custody and obtain books and and reading material from outside, which were not limited to academic books.

The court directed the Jail Superintendent to provide the facilities sought in the application as per the Jail Manual.

A case of rioting was registered at the Khajuri Khas Police Station in which 15 people, including suspended AAP Councillor Tahi Hussain, were arrested for their alleged role in the riots that occurred at about 2.15 pm on February 24 outside Hussain’s house in Delhi’s Chand Bagh area.

Khalid is in judicial custody till October 22 in the UAPA case.

Communal clashes had broken out in northeast Delhi on February 24 after violence between citizenship law supporters and protesters spiralled out of control leaving at least 53 people dead and around 200 injured.

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‘Khalid always cooperated whenever police called him’

Friend of former JNU student recalls how police repeatedly summoned the activist on short notice

He always cooperated with the police whenever they called him in for questioning and returned to Delhi on short notice before his arrest on Sunday, Umar Khalid’s friend Banojyotsana Lahiri told The Hindu.

Ms. Lahiri, a former Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student who now works as a researcher, said Mr. Khalid was in Rajasthan on September 11 when he received separate summons from Delhi Police’s Crime Branch and Special Cell.

“Crime Branch wanted him to come that day itself but he told them that he was in Rajasthan and needs a day or two to return. They then asked him to contact them when he returns. Special Cell on the other hand continued to send summons and did not respond to his request to allow him to join two days later,” she recalled.

Ms. Lahiri said that Mr. Khalid received two summons from Special Cell and one from Crime Branch on Friday and Saturday. “On Saturday, he finally decided to return and appear for questioning,” she said.

Around noon on Sunday, Mr. Khalid went in for questioning at the Special Cell office. “Around 11 p.m., his family was informed that he has been formally arrested,” she added.

Speaking about the last few months, Ms. Lahiri said that Umar learned that he had been booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act through media reports in March. “For the next four months till July, he did not get any calls. In August, he got the first call saying that they [the police] wanted to question him. He was in Kolkata at the time and he got stuck there because of the lockdown,” she said, adding that despite travel restrictions, he returned to Delhi on a single-day notice and cooperated in the first round of enquiry.

Next, he was called in by Crime Branch and again by Special Cell on August 31. “The larger point here is that the police did not call him at all for four months and whenever they did, he cooperated with the enquiry,” she said.

Reacting to the arrest, Ms. Lahiri said that the way the investigation is being conducted is “bizarre”. “No one can anticipate anything. One can only speculate,” she said.

When asked how Mr. Khalid’s parents reacted to the arrest, Ms. Lahiri said that “they are now getting used to this”.

In June, after his name appeared in a chargesheet as being part of a larger conspiracy in riots, Mr. Khalid had said there was not an iota of truth in the police’s claim. On September 1, he had written to Delhi Commissioner of Police S.N. Shrivastava stating he was being falsely implicated.

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