A Delhi Court yesterday denied bail to Saleem Malik alias Munna, an accused in a case alleging a larger conspiracy behind the 2020 North East Delhi riots, observing that he attended 'conspiratorial meetings' and was also one of the organizers of the Chand Bagh protest site where alleged inflammatory speeches were given.
Malik has been in judicial custody since June 25, 2020.
In the order running 40 pages, Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat noted that Malik had attended the alleged conspiratorial meeting held on 16th/17th February 2020 at Chand Bagh and another meeting on 20th/21st of February 2020 where, as per the chargesheet, discussion on the riots took place.
While noting that Malik was not part of Whatsapp groups like DPSG, MSJ, JCC or Pinjra Tod, the court said that the chargesheet however alleges that he took part in the alleged conspiracy to commit the riots.
It is not necessary that in a case of a conspiracy, every accused should play part in every aspect of the conspiracy, the judge said.
While Malik's counsel argued that the statements of witnesses were either false or delayed or contradictory and must not be relied upon, the court said that at the stage of bail, the statements of all the witnesses have to be taken 'at face value' adding that their veracity will tested at the time of cross-examination.
Therefore, perusing various statements of the prosecution witnesses, the court found that there was sufficient incriminating material against Malik to deny him bail in the matter.
"At the time of riots, accused Saleem Malik was present in NorthEast Delhi. Accused Saleem Malik was connected with accused persons namely Saleem Khan, Athar, Shadab and Suleman (Proclaimed Offender). The role of these accused persons and others also has to be considered while understanding role of present applicant/accused," the court said.
It added "Thus, on the perusal of the chargesheet and accompanying documents, for the limited purpose of the bail, I am of the opinion that allegations against the accused Saleem Malik @ Munna are prima facie true."
The court thus concluded that there were reasonable grounds for believing that the accusations against Malik were prima facie true and therefore, the embargo created by Section 43D of UAPA and section 437 CrPC will be applicable in the matter.
Taking note of the chargesheet, the court observed that there was a premeditated conspiracy of disruptive chakkajam and a preplanned protest at 23 different planned sites in the national capital for escalating the same to confrontational chakkajam and incitement to violence, resulting in the riots.
"There was intentional blocking of roads to cause inconvenience and to cause disruption of the essential services to the life of community residing in NorthEast Delhi, causing violence with various means and then leading to February riots. The target was to block roads at mixed population areas and encircle the entire area completely stopping the entry and exit of citizens living there and then creating panic to attack on police personnel by women protesters in front only followed by other ordinary people and engulfing the area into a riots and the same would be covered by the definition of terrorist act," the court said.
It added "The weapons used, manner of attack and the destruction caused shows it to be preplanned. Acts which threaten the unity and integrity of India and causes friction in communal harmony and creates terror in any section of the people, by making them feel surrounded resulting in violence, is also a terrorist act."
The FIR against Malik contains stringent charges including Sections 13, 16, 17, 18 of the UAPA, Sections 25 and 27 of the Arms Act and Section 3 and 4 of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act,1984.
The main charge sheet was filed against Pinjara Tod members and JNU students Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal, Jamia Millia Islamia student Asif Iqbal Tanha and student activist Gulfisha Fatima.
Others who were charge-sheeted included former Congress Councilor Ishrat Jahan, Jamia Coordination Committee members Safoora Zargar, Meeran Haider and Shifa-Ur-Rehman, suspended AAP Councilor Tahir Hussain, activist Khalid Saifi, Shadab Ahmed, Tasleem Ahmed, Mohd Salim Khan and Athar Khan.
Thereafter, a supplementary charge-sheet was filed against Umar Khalid and JNU student Sharjeel Imam.