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Apoorvanand: Delhi Police needs to stop criminalising anti CAA protests, it was legitimate act of citizenship

Names of CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, Swaraj Abhiyan leader Yogendra Yadav, economist Jayati Ghosh, and Delhi University professor Apoorvanand figure in a supplementary charge sheet filed by the Delhi Police in the February riots cases, allegedly for “provoking and mobilizing” anti-CAA protesters.

On September 13, Professor Apoorvanand released a statement asking Delhi police to start investigation to find out the truth behind the actual act of the February violence

“We are still waiting for the Delhi police to start investigation to find out the truth behind the actual act of the February violence . It needs to stop its exercise of criminalising the anti CAA protests which were perfectly legitimate act of citizenship,” wrote Apoorvanand.

“The supplementary CS proclaims that the accused persons were ‘continously poisoning the minds of common people against the CAA/ NRC.’ This is the government’s political position; surprisingly being parroted in the supplementary CS as a legal offence.”

Sitaram Yechury also hit out at the government through a series of tweets.

“The Delhi Police is under the Centre and the Home Ministry. Its illegitimate, illegal actions are a direct outcome of the politics of BJP’s top leadership. They are scared of legitimate peaceful protests by mainstream political parties & are misusing state power to target the opposition,” he said. In another tweet, Yechury questioned why the “hate speeches” made during the riots were not investigated.

Delhi Police Additional PRO Anil Mittal said, “The names are part of the disclosure statement of one of the accused in connection with organizing and addressing the anti-CAA protests. The disclosure statement has been truthfully recorded as narrated by the accused person. A person is not arraigned as an accused only on the basis of the disclosure statement.”

“However, it is only on the existence of sufficient corroborative evidence that further legal action is taken. The matter is currently sub judice,” he said.

Kalita and Narwal also told the police that Ghosh, Apoorvanand, and Roy coordinated with the Islamist group Popular Front of India (PFI) and the Jamia Coordination Committee to mentor the Pinjra Tod members to carry forward their campaign against the CAA, according to the charge sheet.

The police have used Jamia student Fathima’s statement to corroborate the ensuing events.

The charge sheet claims that apart from Yechury and Yogendra Yadav, Fathima’s statement mentions Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Ravan, United Against Hate activist Umar Khalid and some leaders from the Muslim community including ex-MLA Mateen Ahmed, and MLA Amannatullah Khan.

The document, quoting statements of those arrested, indicated that these people aided the conspirators.
In her statement, Fathima said that she was told to organize the protest to “malign the image of the Government of India”, the police claimed.

In her statement, included in the charge sheet, she says that “big leaders and lawyers started coming in to provoke and mobilize this crowd, including Omar Khalid, Chandrashekhar Ravan, Yogendra Yadav, Sitaram Yechury, and lawyer Mahmood Pracha, etc”.

“Pracha said that the sit-in demonstration is your democratic right and the rest of the leaders filled the feeling of discontent in the community by calling CAA/NRC anti-Muslim,” she said, as per the charge sheet.
According to the charge sheet, Kalita added, “Umar Khalid had also given some tips for protesting against CAA/NRC.”

Here is the full statement by Apoorvanand, a professor at the Delhi University:  

It has been brought to my notice that a supplementary Chargesheet filed in connection with FIR 50/2020 has certain disclosure statements by accused in custody, that mention my name, together with that of Rahul Roy, Umar Khalid, Jayati Ghosh , Sita Ram Yechuri and Yogendra Yadav. These names are mentioned in uncorroborated statements attributed to accused who are in custody, where it is claimed that they provided support in organising the anti- CAA protests.

The supplementary CS proclaims that the accused persons were ‘continously poisoning the minds of common people against the CAA/ NRC.’ This is the government’s political position; surprisingly being parroted in the supplementary CS as a legal offence.

Although FIR 50/2020 was registered in connection with the death, from gunshot injury, of one Amaan, the investigation seems to have focussed on deligitimizing the protests and in trying to make the protestors indirectly responsible for Amaan’s death.

While I am not made accused, it is very surprising that the police should even accuse three young women, without any basis, of having murdered a 17 year old boy, Amaan. It would seem that the accused women are not directly linked to the murder, but the allegation is that they instigated some unknown shooter. The investigation has not revealed who shot at Amaan, but it insists that whoever it was, was instigated by the anti-CAA stance of the accused individuals.

It is also pertinent that on September 1st, the Delhi High Court, while hearing a bail application by Devangana Kalita, has categorically held that the police has not been able to give any evidence of any incendiary speech by her. The court also said that the statements of the witnesses were produced belatedly, as an afterthought by the police.

The supplementary CS does not improve upon the legal case, but only seems to be furthering the political agenda of discrediting the protestors, and uses all our names as part of the discrediting exercise. Their act of having planned a protest is being treated as a conspiracy to violence, in which me, along with others, are projected as having abetted that cause, without any basis in law or facts.

We are still waiting for the Delhi police to start investigation to find out the truth behind the actual act of the February violence . It needs to stop its exercise of criminalising the anti CAA protests which were perfectly legitimate act of citizenship.

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