After being called for interrogation by Delhi Police’s Special Cell in relation with the violence in North-East Delhi, JMI’s 35-year old Ph.D. student and President of RJD Youth Wing’s Delhi Unit Meeran Haider was arrested. The FIR of the case mentions former JNU student leader Umar Khalid as prime accused.
Meeran Haider, a Ph.D. student at Jamia Millia Islamia and the President of RJD youth wing’s Delhi unit was summoned for interrogation by the police on Wednesday, 1 April and subsequently arrested for his alleged connection to the violence that broke out in North-East Delhi in February 2020. Haider was presented before the metropolitan magistrate Prabhjeet Kaur on Thursday, who sent him to police custody for four days. On Monday, a Delhi court extended the custody by nine days after the police asked for further remand to confront him with the co-accused. While opposing the police, Advocate Akram Khan, who is appearing for Haider, said no new evidence had come up during the 4-day custody.
The FIR filed for the case on March 6 names former student leader of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Umar Khalid as the prime accused and Danish, a resident of Bhajangpura, North-East Delhi as co-accused. The same FIR alleges that Khalid delivered hate speeches and incited people to take to the streets to show Donald Trump, who had visited India on 24 and 25 February, the ill-treatment of minorities. Khalid is already on trial under sedition for alleged anti-national sloganeering on the JNU campus in 2016. It has to be noted here that Meeran Haider’s name was not mentioned in the FIR. Haider’s lawyer Sarim Naved said the arrest and the case were based solely on police theory. He further mentioned that Haider had been charged for sedition, murder, attempt to murder, promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion and criminal conspiracy. Naved also told the court that Haider was very co-operative with the police and was willing to join the investigation as and when required.
Multiple groups including the Jamia Coordination Committee (JCC) and the Chattra RJD unit of JNU have condemned the arrest and demanded Haider’s immediate release. The JCC mentioned that Haider was diligently working to provide ration to the needy during the lockdown. “The country is facing a massive health crisis, however, the state machinery is busy harassing and framing student activists in false cases to suppress voices of dissent,” they added. RJD spokesperson and Rajya Sabha MP, Manoj Jha tweeted, “Delhi Police called him for investigation and then received orders from above and arrested Meeran Haider, who has been helping people during the time of coronavirus outbreak.”
“From the very first time I met Meeran bhai, he took care of me like a brother. Not just me, he is extremely kind to all”, a confidant of Meeran Haider told TJR. Speaking of his social work he said, “Be it the fee hike, or the unhygienic hostels, he has always raised his voice for us.” “Just like during the floods in Bihar and Kerala, he had been tirelessly working to supply ration to the needy and stranded in Delhi as well until before his arrest”, he added, calling the arrest baseless and a conspiracy to cover up for the responsible ministers.
The Delhi Police’s move comes after several Muslim activists in Delhi including Mohd Danish, Khalid Saifi, and Ishrat Jahan have been arrested by them over the past couple of months in relation to the country-wide protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the following violence that broke out in North East Delhi between 23 and 26 February, 2020. A total of 53 were killed in the communal clashes and hundreds were injured and rendered homeless. Few hours before the violence broke out, hate speech given by BJP leader Kapil Mishra was blamed for the same.
Alfisha Sabri is a student pursuing Literature from University of Delhi.