What is there to be regretful about? Sharjeel Imam on 535 days of jail

As of Thursday, it has been 535 days since scholar and activist Sharjeel Imam was imprisoned for allegedly making inflammatory speeches against the Citizenship Amendment Act. Imam has been booked under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA)and has been a resident of Tihar Jail since January 2020.

The police forces from the states of Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, and Delhi have filed various cases against him.  

In an interview with Article 14, Imam spoke about how he was driven to protest against the CAA “by the inherent flaws in the constitutional setup of India in the recent times.”

Sharjeel Imam has been serving time in jail for charges which are yet to be proven true. He has seven FIRs filed against him which include accusations of violating the law, sedition, promoting enmity between classes, public mischief aside from UAPA.

When asked about his reasons for protesting, Imam remarked “this polity is increasingly anti-Muslim. In the last two years, we can see that these terms are for namesake (sic) only and can be overridden by any strong party, be it Congress or BJP’; even the independence of the judiciary is compromised.”

Imam added in the interview that while he wished to have focused on better alternatives, he didn’t regret rebelling at all and said that millions protested alongside him. “If by being incarcerated my words have reached a wider audience…. Then what is there to be regretful about?”

Imam tested positive for COVID-19 in July 2020 while in Guwahati Central Jail and as things stand is ambivalent at the possibility of his release from jail.

He has now filed a bail plea before a court here in the northeast Delhi riots conspiracy case, stating that there is no evidence against him and the allegations are purely based on conjectures. 

In a bail plea, filed through advocate Ahmad Ibrahim, Imam stated that the allegations against him do not disclose the commission of a ‘terrorist act’ and no offence is made out under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Prosecution has no evidence whatsoever.

Furthermore, the accused claimed that he had no direct communication with any other co-accused and did not meet them. Imam has also moved a bail application in a case related to making alleged inflammatory speeches during the protests against CAA and NRC at two universities. It will come up for hearing on August 2.