The Delhi Police has named CPI (M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, Swaraj Abhiyan leader Yogendra Yadav, economist Jayati Ghosh and Delhi University professor Apoorvanand in a supplementary charge sheet in the February riots cases, accusing them of “provoking and mobilising” anti-CAA protesters.
Some of those named have also been charged with — based on the statements of three students already arrested in the case — asking the protesters to go to ¨any extreme¨, spreading “discontent” in the community by calling CAA/NRC anti-Muslim, and organising demonstrations to “malign the image of the Government of India”.
Their names appeared in the supplementary charge sheet, a copy of which is with the PTI, filed by the police on the riots in North East District between February 23 and 26, which claimed 53 lives and left 581 injured, 97 of them having gunshot wounds. After repeated attempts for his comments, Yogendra Yadav said, ¨I notice that the passing reference to me does not even contain one sentence from my speech. I find it surprising that the Delhi Police has made no effort to see the recording of my speeches all of which are in the public domain.”
These eminent personalities have been named based on the statements of the three students — women’s collective Pinjra Tod members and JNU students Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal, and Gulfisha Fathima of Jamia Milia Islamia — in the Jafrabad violence, from where the riots spread to other parts of north-east Delhi.
All three are facing charges under various sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
In the charge sheet, which was made public just two days before the commencement of the Monsoon Session of Parliament, the Delhi Police has claimed that Kalita and Narwal admitted to not just their complicity in the riots but also named Ghosh, Apoorvanand and documentary filmmaker Rahul Roy as their mentors, who allegedly asked them to carry out the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act and go to ¨any extreme¨.
Their similarly-worded disclosure statements – mentioned in the charge sheet – claimed that the two JNU students said they organised the Daryaganj protest in December and the Jafrafad chakka jam (road block) against the CAA on February 22, 2020 at the behest of Ghosh, Apoorvanand and Roy.
Reacting to the charge sheet, Yechury 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 as to why the “hate speeches” made during the riots were not investigated.
¨There is a video of poisonous speeches, why are they not being processed? Because the government has ordered that the opposition be wrapped up, either way. This is the real face, character, tricks and thinking of Modi and BJP. There will be opposition,¨ he said. 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 disclosure statement.” “However, it is only on the existence of sufficient corroborative evidence does further legal action is taken. The matter is currently subjudice,” 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 organise 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, Yogendar 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 doing protest against CAA/NRC.”