I have every right to protest; not indicative of conspiracy, says Delhi riots accused Khalid Saifi



NEW DELHI: Activist Khalid Saifi, arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in connection with north-east Delhi riots, told the court on Wednesday that he has every right to protest and that is not indicative of any conspiracy.

Saifi, along with several others, has been booked under the anti-terror law in the case for being the “masterminds” of the February 2020 riots, which had left 53 people dead and over 700 injured.

The violence had erupted during the protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the National Register of Citizens.

“If I and others like me feel that CAA and NRC are unjust, I have every right to protest. This is not indicative of any conspiracy,” senior advocate Rebecca John, representing Saifi, said in the courtroom during the bail hearing.

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John went on to say that, “Saifi protested against the CAA and NRC as did I and many people in this room. It does not make any one of us culpable. It is a vibrant democracy. Was there an incitement to violence?” The counsel said that Saifi, who is a member of ‘United Against Hate’, does not owe any explanation to anyone in the country, including Delhi Police, that he participated in the protest.

According to the counsel, Saifi has been arraigned as an accused in three cases related to the riots, out of which he has been granted bail in two.

In November 2020, the district court while granting him bail in one of the riot cases said that charge-sheeting him over insignificant material was a total “non-application of mind” by the Delhi Police.

Besides him, former JNU student leader Umar Khalid, JNU students Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita, Jamia Coordination Committee members Safoora Zargar, former AAP councillor Tahir Hussain and several others have also been booked under the stringent law in the case.

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