More states file FIR against anti-CAA activist Sharjeel, police teams conduct raids

Police teams from Bihar and Delhi conducted multiple raids in different parts of the country to nab anti-CAA activist Sharjeel Imam, who has been booked on sedition and other charges in several states for his alleged “inflammatory” speeches, but he eluded the dragnet, officials said on Monday.
Police in two northeastern states–Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh– also lodged FIRs against Imam, one of the organisers of the Shaheen Bagh protest, over his speech in which he threatened to “cut off” Assam and the northeast from the rest of the country. He had been booked in Assam and Uttar Pradesh earlier.
In Bihar, Jehanabad Superintendent of Police Manish Kumar said police swooped on Imam’s ancestral house in Kako police station area on Sunday night after “help was sought by central agencies”.
Imam was not to be found but two of his relatives and their driver were detained for interrogation and let off thereafter, the officer said.
The Crime Branch of the Delhi Police, which has registered a sedition case against him, has deployed five teams to locate Imam and conducted raids in the national capital, Mumbai and Patna. However, he could not be found.
“Taking cognisance of the objectionable video of Mr Sharjeel Imam, in which he threatened to sever Northeast from the rest of country, the Manipur Police has filed an FIR (No. 16(1)2020 IPS) under sections 121/121-A/124-A/ 120-B /153 IPC,” Rajat Sethi, an adviser to the Manipur chief minister tweeted. Singh retweeted it. The case was filed on Saturday.
The crime branch of Arunachal Pradesh police also filed a similar case against Imam on Sunday, Special Investigation Team (SIT) SP Dr Navdeep Singh Brar said.
The SIT has already begun investigating the case.
“This kind of provocation inciting secession of Assam & other NE states from rest of India, creating communal disharmony, hampering sovereignty & territorial integrity of India will not be tolerated,” Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu tweeted.
If convicted, he could be imprisoned for life.
A graduate in computer science from IIT-Mumbai, Imam had shifted to Delhi for pursuing research at the Centre for Historical Studies at the JNU.
He was slapped with a sedition case after his alleged speeches went viral on social media where he was heard speaking about “cutting off” Assam and the northeast from India.
Earlier, he had been booked on similar charges by Aligarh police in Uttar Pradesh for a speech he delivered on the AMU campus.
The cases were lodged after Imam’s purported video emerged where he spoke about cutting off the northeast from India if “five lakh people stand organised”.
Assam police has already lodged a case against him under the anti-terror law–the Unlawful Activities (prevention) Act.
Following the FIRs, chief proctor of the JNU summoned Imam to appear before him by February 3 and explain his position on the alleged provocative speeches made by him.
In his hometown Jehnanabad, Imam’s mother Afshan Rahim reacted with anguish to the developments and claimed her son was innocent.
“He is a bright young man and not a thief or a pickpocket. I swear in the name of God that I do not know about his whereabouts,” Rahim told reporters.
“But I can guarantee that upon learning about the cases, he will appear before the investigating agencies and fully cooperate in the probe,” she said.
She said it has been a long time since she met her son though she had a telephonic conversation with him a few weeks ago.
“He was obviously disturbed by the CAA and fears over the National Register of Citizens (NRC) being implemented across the country which, he said, would affect not just Muslims but all poor people,” she said.
Rahim said after 15 days of Shaheen Bagh protest in Delhi, he had asked the agitators to withdraw and watch the situation for a month, before deciding on the further course of action.
“But they refused to relent. He was calling for a ‘chakkajam’ (road blockade). He is just a kid and not capable of instigating people for secession,” a distraught Rahim said.
Imam’s late father, the late Akbar Imam, was a local JD(U) leader who had unsuccessfully contested an assembly election in his lifetime.
In the video, the activist is heard saying, “If five lakh people are organised, we can cut off the northeast and India permanently. If not, at least for a month or half a month. Throw as much ‘mawad’ (variously described as pus or rubbish) on rail tracks and roads that it takes the Air Force one month to clear it.
“Cutting off Assam (from India) is our responsibility, only then they (the government) will listen to us. We know the condition of Muslims in Assam….they are being put into detention camps.” Imam’s controversial remarks have been cited by the BJP to target anti-CAA protesters and the parties backing them. They sparked a war of words between between Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Monday.
Kejriwal asked Shah why Imam has not been arrested till now .
“Sharjeel talked about separating Assam from the country. It is very serious. You are the country’s home minister. This statement of yours depicts petty politics. It is your duty to immediately arrest him. He made the statement two days back, why are you not arresting him? What is the compulsion or do you want to do more dirty politics on the matter,” the AAP chief said in a tweet.
Hitting back, Shah said the Delhi Police has booked Imam for sedition.
“I want to ask Kejriwal whether he is in favour of apprehending Sharjeel Imam or not? Whether you are with the people of Shaheen Bagh or not, please tell the people of Delhi,” Shah said addressing an election rally in Rithala in northwest Delhi.