New Delhi: Tihar Jail authorities on Monday informed a Delhi court that a wristwatch, which is a prohibited item, was found during a search of the cell of Sharjeel Imam, a JNU scholar and Delhi communal riots accused, on June 30.
Imam is accused of making inflammatory speeches against the government on the issue of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the National Register of Citizens (NRC), particularly at Jamia Milia Islamia University in December 2019, which allegedly led to violence in the area outside the university.
Imam, also facing sedition charges for his alleged inflammatory speeches, is in judicial custody since January 2020. After the search last month, Imam had filed a plea accusing ‘sevadars’ of conducting the search had assaulted him. Sevadars are jail inmates, who are allowed to assist the prison authorities after their conduct is found good.
On July 23, after seeing the CCTV footage, the court of Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat asked Tihar jail officials to appear before it.
During the hearing, Tihar Jail authorities denied the allegation that Imam was assaulted and instead accused him of abusing the sevadars and resisting the search.
“Initially, he (Imam) was opposing the search. This was his main agenda. He then alleged that three people (sevadars) are throwing away his books. He continuously abused and pointed fingers at them. Meanwhile, the sevadars recovered a wristwatch. He also had a bag, which was not allowed to be searched,” a jail official told the court in his oral submissions.
The official said when asked about the wristwatch, Imam claimed he had the requisite permission letter which he had kept in a book and sent to his home in Bihar by mistake.
“At present, we are awaiting the permission letter,” said the official, claiming it was all “a tactic by Imam to pressure jail authorities.” Counsel for Imam, Ahmad Ibrahim, however, countered the arguments and insisted a wristwatch was not a prohibited but a restricted item in prison for which he had secured permission from the then jail superintendent in 2020.
From the CCTV footage it is clear that there is not a single incident of him (Sharjeel Imam) opposing the search, the counsel said.
Instead, he came outside, and raised objections that his books were being thrown on the floor before the authorities concerned, the counsel said.
The court has directed Tihar authorities to provide Imam with the CCTV footage along with their affidavit and first reply, the counsel added.
The matter has been listed for further hearing on August 16, 2022.
The Delhi Police had filed a charge sheet against Imam in the case in which it alleged he made speeches inciting hatred, contempt, and disaffection towards the central government and instigated the people which led to the violence in December 2019.