Two people, including the younger brother of Sharjeel Imam, have been taken into custody as the police widened its hunt for the Jawaharlal Nehru University student for his alleged remarks calling for the whole of the northeast to be severed from the rest of India. Sharjeel Imam's alleged comments have invited police cases, including sedition, across several states, including Assam, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
Sharjeel Imam's brother was picked during a raid at his ancestral home in Bihar. He is being questioned at in Kako police station in Jehanabad, police said.
Sharjeel Imam, who is pursuing research at the Centre for Historical Studies in JNU, allegedly made the controversial remark during a protest against the citizenship law and the National Register of Citizens.
"Preliminary investigations show the comments were made on January 16," Umesh Kumar, the Senior Superintendent of Police (Aligarh), told NDTV.
A sedition case was registered against Sharjeel Imam in Delhi for the alleged divisive comment. Police cases have also been filed against him across several states; the Assam police has filed a First Information Report against him under anti-terror law UAPA.
The Delhi police claimed he made such speeches on two occasions, once at the Jamia Millia Islamia University at the height of the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests in December.
The Jawaharlal Nehru University has also summoned Sharjeel Imam to explain his position on the allegedly provocative speeches.
Sharjeel Imam is allegedly one of the organisers of the protest at Delhi's Shaheen Bagh protest. But the protesters at Shaheen Bagh distanced themselves from his comments, saying that "no single person" can be called the organiser.
The Citizenship Amendment Act makes religion, for the first time, the test of Indian citizenship. The government says it will help non-Muslim refugees from three Muslim-dominated neighbouring countries if they fled to India because of religious persecution. Critics say the bill discriminates against Muslims and violates secular tenets of the Constitution.