Sharjeel Imam denies inciting violence, says ‘without criticism society dies’

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JNU student Sharjeel Imam, arrested for allegedly making inflammatory speeches during the protests against CAA and NRC, told a Delhi court today that without criticism a society dies and turns into a heap of sheep.

Arguing for bail in a UAPA case, Advocate Tanvir Ahmad Mir, appearing for Imam, said that no part of the speech by the accused, at two universities in 2019, called for any kind of violence to be initiated, PTI reported.

He also emphasized that the speech was made amid a group of scholars as part of an “intellectual debate” and he cannot be prosecuted merely for holding a viewpoint which is different from that of the Government, LiveLaw reported.

“Critical elements in our society are also necessary because in a society where criticism will die, the society will die. That is why, ultimately, the flag to uphold the constitution in a democracy securely lies in your honours’ hands…Courageous men in this country will not be slapped with sedition. This is what our solemn duty is. Sharjeel Imam’s view is not hostile,” Mir submitted.

“What society will be a society if it’s not robust or what doesn’t react. It will be a heap of sheep,” Mir said.

He also pointed out that “when Sharjeel says that CAA is per se unconstitutional, prejudicial against one community and persuades the govt to rethink” and says that if it does not reconsider its decision “we will be on the streets, he can’t be hammered with sedition.”

“Fundamentally the right to protest, bring the country to a standstill is not at any point in time equal to an act of sedition. We went together through the contents of the speech. The petitioner at no point of time has said that you should resort to violence,” Mir told the court.

Advocate Mir also emphasised that Imam is not a member of any banned organisation or terrorist gang but is merely a student, according to PTI.

The alleged inflammatory speeches were made at Jamia Millia Islamia on December 13, 2019, and at Aligarh Muslim University on December 16, 2019.

Imam is in judicial custody since January 28, 2020. He is accused of offenses relating to 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 UAPA.

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