Umar Khalid: In jail for 2 yrs on hearsay statement, what’s the case against me

Student activist Umar Khalid, languishing in jail for allegedly being one of the conspirators of the February 2020 northeast Delhi riots, on Tuesday told the high court that the prosecution needed to decide what exactly was the case against him and his incarceration for the past two years were solely based on hearsay statement of a protected witness that was yet to be corroborated.

The former student of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) was arrested on September 13, 2020, in a case under the Unlawful Activities Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

“The prosecution really needs to make up its mind as to what is the case against me,” Khalid’s counsel said, adding ,“I have to bear the brunt of two years of imprisonment because you have a statement.”

A bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Rajnish Bhatnagar was hearing the student activist’s petition challenging a trial court’s order that had rejected his bail application on March 24.

Senior advocate Trideep Pais, appearing for Khalid, said the statement of the protected witness was the only statement that had some material allegations against him, but it was hearsay and lacked corroboration.

The counsel read the statement of the witness and said “this is a case where a statement is made in order to implicate me. It does not have any relation to violence in Delhi”.

“Basically UAPA is now this, you just get a person to make a statement and that is it. That is the difficulty in which I have been arraigned in this matter,” he said, adding the charge sheet filed by the Delhi Police in the matter was baseless.

The court listed the matter for hearing further arguments on Wednesday.

The communal riots that began on February 23, 2020, had led to the death of at least 53 people, mostly belonging to the minority community. Several activists and student leaders were booked under the stringent UAPA in the case.

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