A Delhi Court refused to grant bail on Wednesday to student activist Gulfisha Fatima in a case concerning a larger conspiracy behind the Delhi riots of February 2020.
Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat dismissed Fatima's bail plea, saying in view of the chargesheet and the accompanying documents, the allegations against the accused are "prima facie true" and therefore, no relief can be given on account of the embargo under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
The judge also dismissed the bail application of another co-accused in the case, Tasleem Ahmed, as it opined that she was actively involved along with Fatima and others in the protest before and at the time of the riots in northeast Delhi and the allegations against her also are prima facie true.
In the order concerning Fatima's bail plea, the Court noted that the statements of the protected witnesses showed "sufficient incriminating material" against the accused, who was "not only involved in the entire protest before the period of riots at Seelampur and Jafrabad in northeast Delhi, but was also actively guiding it".
It further recorded that Fatima engaged in mass mobilisation, created two WhatsApp groups and was also present in northeast Delhi at the time of the riots.
"In fact, as per the witnesses, she was the one who started the blockade and prompted the attack on police personnel and others with weapons like dande, lal mirchi powder and others in the Jafrabad area, which had a cascading effect, leading to the riots," the Court noted.
It also considered that the accused was involved with different groups, was in touch with other accused persons and was a part of a "conspiratorial meeting".
The order also recorded that according to the chargesheet, taken at face value, there was a "premeditated conspiracy" involving various groups and individuals to have "disrupted chakka-jam" and a "pre-planned protest at 23 sites" in order to incite violence and that the alleged acts by the accused persons were covered by the definition of a "terrorist act" under the UAPA.
"The happening of riots on the same day when the President of the USA was in Delhi and the world media was there to cover it, does not appear from the chargesheet to be a mere coincidence. In fact, there is a mention of the visit of the President before the riots began," it added as it considered the speeches made by the other accused in the case.
"Acts which threaten the unity and integrity of India and cause friction in communal harmony and create terror in any section of the people by making them feel surrounded, resulting in violence, are also terrorist acts," the Court said.
Fatima and Ahmed, along with several others, have been booked under the anti-terror law, UAPA, 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 protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), 2019, and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
Besides the accused, activist Khalid Saifi, Umar Khalid, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) students Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita, Jamia Coordination Committee members Safoora Zargar, former Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) councillor Tahir Hussain and several others have also been booked under the stringent law in the case.
With PTI inputs