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‘Riot’ cuffs on relief minder

Yuva Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Meeran Haider, a PhD scholar at the Jamia Millia Islamia, has been sent to four days’ police custody

By Pheroze L. Vincent and Imran Ahmed Siddiqui in New Delhi

  • Published 3.04.20, 4:56 AM
  • Updated 3.04.20, 4:56 AM
Jamia Millia Islamia students shout slogans during a protest in New Delhi.
Jamia Millia Islamia students shout slogans during a protest in New Delhi. (AP)

The RJD youth wing’s Delhi president was arrested on Wednesday night on charges of inciting the February riots at a time the party said he was coordinating relief operations for migrant workers.

Yuva Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Meeran Haider, a PhD scholar at the Jamia Millia Islamia here, has been sent to four days’ police custody.

Haider was arrested in connection with an FIR relating to the two-month-long anti-CAA protest in northeast Delhi’s Khureji Khas, which the police broke up on February 26 after curfew was imposed following the riots, his lawyer Sarim Naved said. The BJP alleges the anti-CAA protests led to the riots.

Rights activist and Aam Aadmi Party supporter Khalid Saifi and former Congress councillor Ishrat Jahan have already been arrested in the case and face charges including attempt to murder, rioting, property damage and Arms Act violations.

The police visited Haider’s home in the Abul Fazl Enclave on Tuesday evening but he was not in.

“He had emailed a reply to the police notice which asked him to appear for questioning yesterday (Wednesday), requesting them to postpone it as the lockdown was in force,” Naved said. “Later, after they repeatedly requested him to come and told him he would only be questioned for a few hours, he went to the special cell office in Lodhi Colony. Around 8pm (on Wednesday), he was told he was under arrest.”

RJD parliamentarian Manoj Jha said Haider was coordinating the party’s relief efforts for the stranded workers in the National Capital Region.

“He was taking care of all the relief work in Okhla and even in Gurgaon. I used to transfer money through him to workers who were in desperate need of cash to buy essentials,” Jha told The Telegraph.

“It’s wrong that a person who wanted to cooperate with the police has been arrested during a national effort to cope with this pandemic.”

Jha had accompanied Haider when he was produced before metropolitan magistrate Prabhdeep Kaur outside her residence.

Joint commissioner of police (special cell) Neeraj Thakur confirmed Haider’s arrest but did not share details.

An officer privy to the case suggested the police would try to link Haider to the Shaheen Bagh protest too. He said Haider’s alleged “involvement in the conspiracy to instigate the riots, funding the violence and the agitation against the CAA in Shaheen Bagh is also being probed”.

Naved said that although Haider was not present when the police raided the Khureji Khas protest site on February 26, he had visited the site earlier.

The Jamia Coordination Committee and the Chhatra RJD have demanded Haider’s release and termed the charges baseless.

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