“Sharjeel Imam has been arrested from his native Kako village in Jehanabad,” said Gupteshwar Pandey, Director General of Police of Bihar.
However, the sources in Jehanabad had informed The Hindu that Imam was arrested when he, along with his lawyer, was on his way to surrender in a local court. He was taken into police custody from Mallik Tola. The Delhi Police and the Jehanabad police had searched his village for three days. On Monday, his brother, Muzameel Imam, along with three other relatives, were detained by the police to trace Imam’s whereabouts.
The police in Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Delhi have filed sedition charges against Sharjeel Imam after his alleged speeches went viral on social media. He was heard saying in a video that Assam and other northeast states should be cut off from the rest of the country. Earlier, Assam and UP had filed sedition charges against him.
Sharjeel Imam was charged under IPC sections 121A (conspiracy to wage war against India), 124A (sedition), 120B (criminal conspiracy), and 153, relating to “promoting enmity between different religious groups with an intent to create disharmony,” the police said.
Imam had allegedly told the crowd, “If we have five lakh people, with us, we can cut off the Northeast from India. If not permanently, for one or two months. Put rubble on tracks and roads. Assam aur India katke alag ho jaaye, tabhi ye humari baat sunenge (Once Assam is cut off, then only they will listen to us. We can do that because the Chicken’s Neck corridor (connecting Northeast to the rest of India) is dominated by Muslims.”
Imam had later clarified that he was only calling for the blockade of roads. “I was saying we should try to block roads wherever possible peacefully. In that context, I said you have to block roads going to Assam. It was basically a call for chakka jam,” he had told the Sunday Express.
Imam’s mother alleged that the police were threatening and harassing her family. “Sharjeel Imam is being victimized for a statement that was twisted and taken out of context by the media. However, the police and state authorities, against whose highhandedness Sharjeel protested, are now harassing and threatening his family members,” Afshan Rahim, Imam’s mother, had said in the statement released to the media dated January 26.
BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra, on Saturday, had said that Imam’s speech was “a classic case of jihad” and that “a conspiracy was brewing at Shaheen Bagh to end India’s independence.”