JNU student Sharjeel Imam, arrested under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and sedition law, has moved a bail plea before a court here in a case related to making allegedly inflammatory speeches during the protests against CAA and NRC at two universities.
Sharjeel was arrested for his alleged speech at Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) on December 13, 2019, and at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) on December 16 where he allegedly threatened to "cut off" Assam and the rest of the Northeast from India. He is in judicial custody since January 28, 2020.
In the bail plea, which came up before Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat for hearing on Thursday, Sharjeel claimed that he never participated in or encouraged any violence during the course of any protest or demonstration and is a peace-loving citizen.
During the hearing, advocate Tanveer Ahmed Mir, representing Sharjeel, read parts of his speeches to the court and said that they do not fall within the meaning of sedition law.
"Where is the call of violence? How does Sedition come into play? The context is to block the roads. How is this seditious? He called for a greater federal structure. That was the intent," advocate Mir said.
Alluding to the speeches, the counsel further said, "Imam spoke about cutting off some cities. When the call rail roko is not seditious, why is the call of bringing the country to a standstill seditious?"
He submitted that the perusal of the contents of the speeches show that there was neither any ''incitement to violence'' nor have any ''incidents of violence'' taken place which could be attributed to the Imam''s speeches.
ASJ Rawat heard the arguments put forth by Sharjeel's counsel and posted the matter to August 2 for further hearing.
Sharjeel is accused of offenses relating to sedition, promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, imputations prejudicial to national integration, and public mischief under the Indian Penal Code, and indulging in unlawful activities under the UAPA.
Last year, Delhi Police had filed a charge sheet against Sharjeel in the case, in which it alleged that he allegedly gave speeches inciting hatred, contempt, and disaffection towards the Central Government and instigated the people which led to the violence in December 2019.
"In the garb of CAA, he (Imam) exhorted people of a particular community to block highways leading to major cities and resort to ''chakka jaam''. Also, in the name of opposing CAA, he openly threatened to cut off Assam and other Northeastern states from the rest of the country," the charge sheet had said.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)