Names of Khurshid, Krishnan, Bhushan find mention in Delhi riots chargesheet for making anti-CAA speeches
The Delhi Police says that those protesting against the CAA and NRC were using it as a front to plan Delhi’s worst communal riot in a long time
Congress leader Salman Khurshid, CPI-ML politburo member Kavita Krishnan, advocate Prashant Bhushan, student leader Kawalpreet Kaur and scientist Gauhar Raza have been mentioned in the disclosure statements of accused persons in the chargesheet for FIR no. 59/2020 filed by the Delhi Police. The FIR invokes the Unlawful Prevention Activities Act (UAPA).
The names of Khurshid and Bhushan are mentioned in the disclosure statements of accused Khalid Saifi as well as former Congress councillor Ishrat Jahan. Bhushan’s name comes up in the context of having given a speech at Khureji. Raza’s name comes up for allegedly “instigating Muslims” through his speech at Khureji.
Kaur’s name is mentioned in the disclosure statement of Saifi dated May 25, in which he says he was in touch with her, among others, to “plan with them” and get them to send “provocative messages/tweets”.
The disclosure statement of Shadab Ahmed, one of the 15 accused, mentions the names of 38 persons, including Krishnan, Kaur and Umar Khalid’s father SQR Ilyas, as having made “provocative speeches” at the Chand Bagh protest site. Krishnan’s name also appears in the disclosure statements attributed to Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal in FIR no. 59. Both Kalita and Narwal have been named as accused in the same FIR.
A statement of a protected witness says Raza “spoke wrong and objectionable things against CAA, National Register of Citizens and the current government, and instigated Muslims”. However, Raza said, “Even today I oppose CAA. It is an attack on the Constitution of India. I have always been against any kind of violence, so I will never instigate anybody against anyone else.”
This doesn’t make any of them accused in the case as yet, but it leaves them open to being implicated in the so-called conspiracy in the future under section 120 (B) of the Indian Penal Code. Disclosure statements cannot be submitted in court and do not have evidentiary value in a trial unless they lead to the discovery of new evidence.
The Delhi Police says that those protesting against the CAA and NRC were using it as a front to plan Delhi’s worst communal riot in a long time.
Saifi’s lawyer Harsh Bora underscored that disclosure statements were inadmissible in law because police use coercion to obtain signatures of an accused. “Moreover, they are false,” added Bora.
“My speeches were neither provocative nor provoking violence. I’m strongly critical of the government, but there is nothing violent. This government wants to prosecute anyone who was supporting these protests against them,” said Bhushan. Kaur, too, said the allegations against her were “absurd and false”.
Questioning the chargesheet, Krishnan said, “The Delhi Police is trying to claim that this speech making and meetings between activists, which is routine in Delhi, is some conspiracy.”
The names of CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury, Swaraj India leader Yogendra Yadav, economist Jayati Ghosh, DU professor Apoorvanand and filmmaker Rahul Roy had also featured in other chargesheets based on disclosure statements.