Delhi HC asks for video proof of 'inciting' speech during riots

new delhi: When the Delhi High Court on Friday asked the police here to show the videos of Pinjra Tod member Devangana Kalita allegedly making "inciting" speeches during the north-east Delhi riots in February, the Delhi Police said that they do not have such videos of Kalita, a JNU student.

The police, however, said it has the videos of her allegedly instigating people before the riots took place on February 24 and 25 and also of February 22 and 23 when a large gathering was sitting and protesting outside Jafrabad metro station in north-east Delhi against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

While hearing the arguments on Kalita's bail plea in a case related to the communal violence in Delhi during protests against the CAA, Justice Suresh Kumar Kait said, "Show me any portion of the speech recorded by the media or anyone else which showed that Kalita instigated the mob to commit the crime. During that period, the media was everywhere and recording everything. I want to know what she said which instigated the mob."

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) S V Raju, appearing for the police, said there was no media on February 25 when the incident happened and the witness accounts showed Kalita's role in instigating the mob. When the law officer stated that Kalita's call detail records showed her location to be that spot, the judge said even she has admitted that she was there.

When the court asked the investigating officer in the case whether he had recorded the speech given by Kalita, he said there was a mob of 10,000 people and even media persons were not there and that she was making the statement a kilometre away.

"If she was 1 km away, how did you manage to hear what she was saying," the judge asked. To this, the IO replied the SHO who had gone near Kalita had heard her making an instigating speech.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing Kalita, said the police was not showing any instigation or speeches allegedly given by her but was only relying on statements of others recorded under the CrPC.

The counsel shared a video with the court to show that the police were recording the protest and said the officials were still not showing any videos to the court. "Accused is not a politician. She is an academician and a research scholar. She has already been granted bail in two cases. Let the police show us the video and the hate speech. The police are not showing us that there is any possibility of her fleeing from justice," Sibal submitted.

"It was well planned and organised at a time when US President Donald Trump was to come here. It was done to damage the image of the country. Public property was destroyed and a large number of people were injured and one person died," the ASG argued while opposing the bail plea.

The high court, after hearing the arguments, reserved its order on the plea challenging a trial court's order which had dismissed Kalita's bail application.

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