Jawaharlal Nehru University student Sharjeel Imam told a Delhi court on Monday that he is not a terrorist and the ongoing case against him was “not because of a government established by law but a result of a king’s order”. Imam was arrested for making provocative statements during a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
Imam gave speeches at two universities in 2019, in which he allegedly threatened to “cut off” Assam and the rest of the Northeast from India. Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat heard the case registered in this regard. The speeches for which Imam was arrested were reportedly given at Jamia Millia Islamia on 13 December 2019 and Aligarh Muslim University on 16 December 2019.
Imam is booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and is in judicial custody since January 2020. A case of sedition is also registered against him. Imam’s lawyer Tanveer Ahmed Mir, while requesting for bail, told the court that criticizing the government could not amount to sedition. “The whole gist of the prosecution’s argument is that now if we speak against us, it will be sedition,” Mir said.
He said that Imam cannot be punished because he criticized CAA or NRC. The lawyer said, “The prosecution of Sharjeel Imam appears to be more a decree of an emperor than a government established by law. This is not the way a government should work. The government can change. nothing is permanent.”
Special Public Prosecutor Amit Prasad said that the fundamental right to protest does not mean that public should be harmed. He told the court that violent riots broke out after Imam’s speech. Prasad opposed the bail saying, “He tried to create anarchy by saying that there is no hope left for the Muslim community and there is no way out now.”