In the first week of April, the Delhi Police arrested at least two Muslim residents of Jamia Nagar who had participated in the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act. A third Jamia Nagar resident received a notice to appear at a police station and was later told that he, too, could be arrested. Social activists from Shaheen Bagh and Jamia Nagar told me that the police had been targeting protesters across southeast Delhi since the anti-CAA protests began, in mid-December. According to them, the ongoing lockdown to fight COVID-19 has become an opportunity for the police to track down and arrest the protesters.
Ashu Khan, a resident of Jamia Nagar, was called to the Shaheen Bagh police station on 4 April. He had participated in the anti-CAA protests at Shaheen Bagh. According to his lawyers, Asthar Khan and Najmi Khan, the police arrested him when he reached the station. They said Ashu was arrested in connection with three first information reports registered at the Jamia Nagar, New Friends Colony and Shaheen Bagh police stations, respectively. “He has got interim bail for 45 days in one of the cases, we have applied for bail in the other two cases,” Asthar told me. “After four days in remand, he was sent to judicial custody.”
Najmi said that Ashu is a lawyer, a social worker and a local politician, though he is not associated with any political party. The FIR registered at the Jamia Nagar police station named seven people, including Ashu and three students from Jamia Millia Islamia. It is dated 16 December 2019, the day after the Delhi Police cracked down on anti-CAA student protests inside Jamia with brute force and heavy tear-gas shelling within the university. The FIR is registered in connection with “offences” committed on 15 December.
The second FIR, registered at the New Friends Colony police station, is also dated 16 December, and similarly registered for “offences” committed the previous day. The FIRs are registered under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including unlawful assembly, mischief by fire and explosive substances, assault or use of criminal force against a public servant, and attempt to commit culpable homicide. The jail term could be up to seven years, for an attempt to commit culpable homicide. Both FIRs also include offences under the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1984.
The FIR at the New Friends Colony police station also mentions that buses and public property near Mata Ka Mandir, in the NFC area, were set ablaze. “The CCTV clips of the incident would show that Ashu Khan and others mentioned in the FIR have nothing to do with this. Rather, they raise doubt on what the police was doing there,” Asthar told me.