Sharjeel Imam has just been slapped with sedition charges by a Delhi court for instigating violence against Hindus during the February 2020 riots in Delhi, which was born out of the anti-CAA agitation of Islamists in Shaheen Bagh and other locations in the national capital. A former JNU student and one of the key organisers of the Shaheen Bagh protest, Sharjeel Imam was arrested in 2020 from Bihar’s Jehanabad. On Monday, a Delhi court framed charges against Sharjeel Imam for making inflammatory speeches at Aligarh Muslim University and in Delhi’s Jamia area against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
Imam has been charged with sedition, promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, imputations prejudicial to national integration, and public mischief under the Indian Penal Code, and indulging in unlawful activities under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
The court also rejected Imam’s bail in this case, which was argued by his lawyer, Tanvir Ahmed Mir. The prosecution, during arguments, told the court that his speeches give a clear indication that Muslims have no hope in India and his call to burn detention camps was not peaceful.
The charge sheet filed by Delhi Police against Imam said, “He, through his speeches, repeatedly incited the public to commit acts which would jeopardise public tranquillity, attempts to cause disaffection towards the lawfully elected government of the country in the garb of democratically opposing the CAA. His oration and acts are seditious in nature.”
It added, “He is accused of delivering seditious speeches and inciting a particular section of the community to indulge in unlawful activities, detrimental to sovereignty and integrity of the nation.”
What did Sharjeel Imam Say?
Sharjeel Imam said a lot of things. He thought he would lead India’s Islamist uprising, but it has all visibly turned out to be a big failure. Imam had given a venomous speech, calling on the Muslim community to cut off Assam and Northeast India from the rest of the country.
He said, “Cutting off Assam is our responsibility. Let Assam and India be separated, only then they will listen to us. You know what the condition of Muslims is in Assam, CAA, NRC has been done over there, people have been thrown in detention camps and well, the massacre is taking place over there but in the next 6-8 months, we will find that all Bengalis have been killed, be it Hindu or Muslim. So, if we want to help Assam, we will have to close the gateway to the northeast.”
He added, “The Chicken’s neck belongs to the Muslims, that area is dominated by Muslims.” The Chicken’s neck or Siliguri Corridor is a 22-kilometre narrow stretch of land which connects the Northeast with the rest of India and is crucial for the country’s security.
Imam’s radicalisation has today landed him in prison, presumably for a very long time. The charges slapped against him are severe, and he is not getting out anytime soon. Sharjeel Imam’s journey should be a reminder to all radicals in India – you cannot call for breaking the country and expect to remain untouched. You will be picked up and tossed behind bars.