Karkardooma court denies Umar Khalid bail in Delhi riots case

Delhi’s Karkardooma court on Tuesday rejected the bail application of former Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student leader Umar Khalid.

| Updated: 29 May, 2024 1:34 pm IST

NEW DELHI: Delhi’s Karkardooma court on Tuesday rejected the bail application of former Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student leader Umar Khalid. He is implicated in the larger conspiracy case linked to the 2020 Delhi riots and has been charged under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). The decision to deny bail was made by Special Judge Sameer Bajpai, who had previously reserved the order on May 13.

Umar Khalid, a prominent student activist, had sought regular bail on the grounds of delay and parity with other accused individuals in the case. His counsel argued that there were no specific terror allegations against him in the Delhi Police’s charge sheet, claiming that his name was merely repeated throughout the document without substantive evidence. Khalid’s lawyer contended that the mere repetition of his name did not establish his involvement in any conspiracy.

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The Delhi Police’s special public prosecutor opposed Khalid’s bail plea, describing it as “frivolous and baseless.” The prosecutor maintained that the evidence pointed to Khalid’s active involvement in planning protests at 23 locations in 2020, which allegedly incited the riots. The prosecutor further argued that WhatsApp chats revealed Khalid’s attempts to create media and social media narratives to influence bail hearings for him and other accused individuals.

In his defense, Khalid’s lawyer claimed that his client was subjected to a vicious media trial, which unfairly influenced public perception and the judicial process. The defense also pointed to tweets by activists and journalists, such as Teesta Seetalvad, Aakar Patel, Kaushik Raj, Swati Chaturvedi, and Arju Ahmed, arguing that these did not constitute evidence of wrongdoing but rather highlighted the broader societal debate on the case.

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Despite these arguments, the court found that there was sufficient material to deny bail to Khalid. The Delhi Police have accused him of being a part of a larger conspiracy to incite violence through the organization of protests. The riots, which erupted in Northeast Delhi in February 2020, resulted in significant loss of life and property, leading to intense scrutiny and numerous arrests.

Khalid’s legal team has expressed disappointment with the court’s decision and is considering further legal options. The rejection of his bail application means that he will remain in custody as the legal proceedings continue. This case remains a focal point in the ongoing discussions about the Delhi riots and the application of the UAPA in cases of alleged conspiracy and terrorism.

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