Delhi Police have registered a case of sedition against one of the organisers of the Shaheen Bagh protest for allegedly advocating the separation of Assam from India through "divisive" speeches. The move came a day after the Assam police filed a case against the accused -- Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student Sharjeel Imam -- under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act for the "anti-national" comment.
"It was noticed that Sharjeel Imam, a resident of Bihar and student of the JNU, has been delivering very inflammatory and instigatory speeches in opposition to the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens," the Delhi Police said in a statement, adding that such comments can potentially affect religious harmony and weaken the "unity and integrity" of the country.
The Delhi police claimed that Sharjeel Imam made such speeches on two occasions, including one at the Jamia Millia Islamia University at the height of the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests in December last year. An FIR has been lodged against the JNU student under Section 124 A (sedition), Section 153 A (promoting enmity between different religious communities) and Section 505 (remarks that may lead to public mischief) of the Indian Penal Code.
The cases were filed against Sharjeel Imam after videos of his controversial speeches surfaced online. Shaheen Bagh protesters distanced themselves from his comments by saying that "no one person" can be termed as the organiser of the movement.
"The protest has been led by the women of Shaheen Bagh and it is unfair to associate their voice with any distorted media narrative... It warrants repetition that neither the contentious statements in question nor the speech were ever delivered in or around this site," a Twitter account claiming to be the official handle of the Shaheen Bagh protest.
Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia dared the centre, which controls the city police, to arrest Sharjeel Imam within 24 hours to prove that he was not making such comments as part of a conspiracy to discredit the Shaheen Bagh protest. "A person is talking about cutting off Assam... BJP is doing press conferences instead of arresting him... arrest him or tell the country you are unable to," he said.
The Citizenship Amendment Act makes religion a test of Indian citizenship for the first time. The government says it will help non-Muslims fleeing religious persecution from three countries but critics alleged that it violates the secular tenets of the Constitution and discriminates against Muslims.