A charge sheet has been filed against 18 people arrested in two cases related to the violence at Jamia Millia Islamia university and New Friends Colony during protests against the new citizenship law on December 15, the Delhi police said on Tuesday.
None of the 18 people accused of rioting, violence, attacking security personnel and damaging public as well as private property are students of Jamia Millia Islamia. However, the role of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) scholar Sharjeel Imam as an “instigator” is being probed, the police said.
Imam was arrested in one of the two cases for allegedly “inciting violence” through an “inflammatory speech” outside Jamia Millia Islamia on December 13, for which he has also been booked in a separate case of sedition. Imam has not been named in the charge sheet that was filed before a Saket court on February 13 as the probe against him is still pending, said deputy commissioner of police (crime branch) Rajesh Deo, who is heading the special investigation team (SIT) probing the December 15 violence. “We have not named Sharjeel Imam in the charge sheet. He might be named in the supplementary charge sheets, which we will file after concluding the probe. As many as 68 suspects in the two cases are still absconding. Also, there is no mentioning of Popular Front of India (PFI) in the charge sheet, as the organisation’s role in the violence has yet not been established,” said Deo.
On Monday, the SIT secured one-day custody of Imam, who was already in Tihar jail in the sedition case, to interrogate him regarding his role in the December 15 clashes between anti-CAA protesters and security personnel, which left nearly 100 people, including Jamia students and police personnel, injured.
On Tuesday, Imam was produced before a city court that sent him to judicial custody till March 3. Deo said Imam’s name emerged during the interrogation of Furkan, one of the 18 men arrested and chargesheeted in the two cases registered at Jamia Nagar and New Friends Colony police stations. “When we asked Furkan why he indulged in rioting and violence on December 15, he said that he was provoked by Imam’s inciting speech made outside the Jamia university two days before the violence . We also questioned some locals and people known to him. They too acknowledged his role in abetting the violent outburst of December 15,” the DCP said.
The police said since four of the 18 people are still in judicial custody, the law mandates them to file a charge sheet within 60 days of the arrests because the maximum quantum of punishment in the sections imposed is less than 10 years.
Officials said all the 18 men were arrested on the basis of video footage in which they were seen clashing with security personnel and torching public buses and damaging private property.
The charge sheet has been filed under sections 307 (attempt to murder), 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting, armed with a deadly weapon),149 (unlawful assembly), 186 (obstructing a public servant), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter a public servant), 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter a public servant) and 427 (mischief causing damage), and 120 (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code and sections 25/27 of the Arms Act.
Between Sunday and Monday, multiple videos were circulated on social media to show what happened inside Jamia Millia Islamia in the aftermath of an anti-CAA protest in December. The videos contradicted the Delhi police’s claim that they did not enter the university’s library area or beat up students. A couple of videos also showed a group of suspected rioters carrying stones — some of them wearing masks — inside the reading room and in a corridor.
On Tuesday, the SIT visited Jamia university and inspected various locations including the library. The SIT interacted with faculty and also examined a few students. The chief proctor was requested to help in securing the presence of students whom the SIT desired to examine. The team was at the university for about three hours. SIT officials said they are still looking for 68 “rioters” whose photos were released by them on January 28. A reward of ₹1 lakh has also been announced for information leading to their arrest.