Umar Khalid granted bail in connection with the north-east Delhi riots

News Desk: A Delhi court on Thursday granted bail to former JNU student union leader Umar Khalid in connection with the riots that broke out in Khajuri Khas area of north-east Delhi in February last year, saying that he was not present on the scene of crime and that he cannot be kept behind bars on the basis of “sketchy material”.

Khalid, however, will continue to remain in jail in connection with the case regarding the conspiracy behind the north-east Delhi riots in which he was booked under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

Additional sessions judge Vinod Yadav said Khalid was neither captured in any CCTV footage nor viral video, nor any independent witness or any police witness identified him in the crowd at the crime scene.

“Prima facie, the applicant appears to have been roped in the matter merely on the basis of his own disclosure statement and disclosure statement of co-accused Tahir Hussain. The statement of Rahul Kasana (witness) is yet to be tested on the touchstone of evidence….”

“The applicant cannot be permitted to remain behind bars in this case on the basis of such sketchy material against him,” the court said.

As many as 53 people were killed and more than 400 injured in the riots that broke out in parts of north-east Delhi on February 23, 2020. Police have registered 755 cases related to the communal violence that was allegedly triggered after clashes between those protesting against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and those supporting it.

The FIR in the Khajuri Khas case was registered on the statement of constable Sangram Singh, in which he alleged that on February 24, 2020 at about 2pm, a large crowd gathered on the road in a locality in north-east Delhi and started pelting stones. The constable alleged that the mob thrashed him and other police officials.

Singh alleged that the mob set ablaze vehicles in a parking area, including his motorcycle.

On Thursday, the court said the sole evidence of this “so called conspiracy” is a statement by a witness Rahul Kasana, in which he stated while he was standing outside a building in Shaheen Bagh, where he had dropped principal accused Tahir Hussain, he saw Umar Khalid and Khalid Saifi going in the same building.

“I fail to understand from the aforesaid statement how a lofty claim of conspiracy can be inferred. In my humble opinion, chargesheeting the applicant in this case on the basis of such an insignificant material is unwarranted. I have deliberately not touched the material sought to be relied upon by the police against the applicant in case FIR No.59/2020 (investigated by Special Cell),” the judge said in his 12-page order.

The court also rejected the prosecution’s argument that Khalid was in regular contact with co-accused Tahir Hussain and Khalid Saifi over mobile phone and said that “prima facie that does not in any way go on to establish the criminal conspiracy alleged against the applicant in the matter”.

“The applicant cannot be made to incarcerate in jail for infinity merely on account of the fact that other persons who were part of the riotous mob have to be identified and arrested in the matter,” it said.

It granted bail to Khalid on a personal bond of Rs.20,000 with one surety of the like amount while adding that he will not tamper with evidence or influence any witness in any manner.