It turned out to be a false alarm. First, a tweet by the Swaraj Abhiyan leader and then a clarification issued by Delhi Police have confirmed that Yogendra Yadav, Sitaram Yechury, Jayati Ghosh and Apoorvanand have not been arraigned as accused in a supplementary chargesheet filed in connection with the death of a 17-year-old in the February riots in Delhi.
It does raise a few uncomfortable queries, though, pertaining to both the source and the process resulting in the misleading news flash by the agency.
The leaders and activists, however, have been named in unauthenticated disclosure statements obtained by police from the accused and which form part of the chargesheet.
It is not admissible in court but can form the basis of legal action against these individuals should there be found, or concocted, corroborative evidence. Prima facie, the allegation against them is about “provoking and mobilising” the anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) protests in Jaffrabad on February 22.
But since they were perfectly within their rights to criticise and rally public opinion against CAA, it is no more than the government’s political position on the matter. “Maligning the image of the government”, to quote from the second chargesheet, is no offence under the law.
The Delhi Police investigation into the riots has been loudly condemned by this newspaper for being shoddy in the extreme and ideologically charged.
The original chargesheet was against Pinjra Tod members Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal, and Jamia Millia Islamia’s Gulfisha Fathima.
Incredible though it may appear to be, they are now being accused of instigating an unknown person to shoot Amaan, the 17-year-old riot victim. Curiously or not, Kalita and Narwal have written, “I refuse to sign”, in some pages of the statements in the new chargesheet.
Recently, hearing a bail plea by her, the Delhi high court held that there is no evidence against Kalita of participating in any conspiracy.
Clearly, these new “revelations” strategically hyped by the police is part of its partisan agenda to discredit the anti-CAA movement, discourage new participants and intimidate, harass and harm the protesters.