Zafar Aafaq | Clarion India
NEW DELHI – Prominent news outlets reported that an activist associated with the ‘United Against Hate’ group was arrested by Delhi Police on Tuesday. However, many see a glaring casualty of the truth in the reportage of the police investigation of the northeast Delhi’s February riots. Here is a fact check…
A simple Google search would have revealed that the activist, Khalid Saifi was, in fact, arrested by the Delhi Police in late February, not today. His arrest was recorded on camera and uploaded by many social media users immediately. Ever since, Saifi is under detention charged with multiple cases, including instigating rioting. He was even allegedly tortured in police custody earlier.
One media report, quoting sources, reported that during investigation, the police found that the activist played a “crucial role” in arranging a meeting between a suspended AAP Councilor, Tahir Hussain, and Umar Khalid, a well known student activist.
What came as a shock for many is that the media’s attempt to portray Saifi’s arrest as the latest news.
NDTV: दिल्ली दंगों की साजिश के मामले में खालिद सैफी गिरफ्तार, चलाता है ‘यूनाइटेड अगेंस्ट हेट’ नाम का संगठन While the NDTV makes a similar claim that Khalid has been arrested in connection with the Delhi violence, it does not say when.
On the other hand, a headline on Times Now goes “Delhi riots: Police arrests man in Chand Bagh violence case
Times Now reported that the police had claimed to have arrested Khalid Saifi, in connection with the violence that took place in the Chand Bagh area during the Delhi riots in February this year.
A colleague of Saifi at United Against Hate, speaking on condition of anonymity, called the arrest as part of a strategy to portray Muslims as villain of the piece in the Delhi violence while completely ignoring the other side of the story which would uncover the truth.
He said the way a section of the media covered the report today reflects that it is, in fact, acting in collusion with the police.
“This is a malicious attempt of the media to vilify a peaceful activist at the behest of the police. The story is a plant,” he said.
Not JUST arrested.
1. Khalid Saifi was arrested on Feb 26 from Khureji.
2. On Mar 12, he had broken legs, was in a wheelchair in court. Tortured in police custody.
3. Not spoken to family for 2 months. @DelhiPolice slaps yet another case to prevent his release. https://t.co/8PZvf6zMHr
— Neha Dixit (@nehadixit123) June 9, 2020
Saifi, a human rights activist associated with United Against Hate, was arrested by the police on a charge of attempted murder from Khureji protest sit-in site on February 26.
United Against Hate (UAH) is a group of citizens which works for the rights of minorities and promotes communal harmony among different groups. However, Home Minister Amit Shah has alleged that the UAH’s call for protest during US President Donald Trump’s visit led to the Delhi violence. Speaking in Parliament, Shah said, “United Against Hate – the name sounds so pious; but look at what they advocated. They said, ‘(Donald) Trump is about to come, we should block the streets’.
If baseless charges, multiple FIRs and custodial torture #KhalidSaifi was subjected to wasn't enough already, now he's being charged anew for Delhi violence, again no connections to the same, can it get more brazen? 2/n pic.twitter.com/PRqg0WYKNU
— Nabiya Khan | نبیہ خان (@NabiyaKhan11) June 9, 2020
Witnesses have told the media at that time that Saifi was essentially appealing to women anti-CAA protesters to move away from the main road, but the police arrested him on what his colleagues say are “false accusations.”
Ishrat Jehan a prominent protester at the sit-in was also arrested that day. She, along with Saifi remain behind the bars till date.
Latching on to these news reports, rightwing trolls and even some journalists have started a vilification campaign to demonise Saifi.
दिल्ली दंगों का गिरफ़्तार खिलाड़ी खालिद सैफी अपने सलेक़्टरस और कोचिंग स्टाफ़ के साथ
यह खालिद सैफी वो ही जिसने टुकड़े गैंग वाले उमर खालिद और ताहिर हुसैन के बीच शाहीन बाग में मीटिंग करवाई थी pic.twitter.com/XwSGUP8DdZ
— Major Surendra Poonia (@MajorPoonia) June 9, 2020