Delhi Police Special Cell on Monday questioned veteran journalist Prashant Tandon in connection with communal riots that broke out in the Capital in February. His mobile phone has also been seized.
Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Tandon said that he was primarily questioned because he supported the protests against Citizenship (Amendment) Act, National Register of Citizens and National Population Register. The questioning mostly centred around two meetings and a WhatsApp group, he said.
The 54-year-old journalist residing in east Delhi said that he was served notice on Friday to appear on Saturday. But as he had prior commitments, he requested for a change to 11a.m.on Monday. Mr. Tandon was interviewed by three officers, including two Inspectors and one Deputy Commissioner of Police, one after the other. He was finally dropped home by the police around 10:30 p.m.
Talking about the nature of questioning, Mr. Tandon said that the officers asked him about his association with protests against the CAA, many of which he had participated in. “I was part of certain WhatsApp groups… coordination committees. One of the groups was formed by Yogendra Yadav [Swaraj Abhiyan president] and another by activist Rahul Roy,” he said. He added that the officers asked him about how he knew the people who were members of those groups. “The basic questioning was about that [Rahul Roy’s] group”.
The journalist said that he wasn’t reading all the messages on the group but was shown a chat on the group from February 27 – right after the riots – which “the officers found problematic as they gave a hint of possibility of violence”.
‘Attended CAA protests’
Mr. Tandon said that he was questioned about two meetings which were held for coordinating the course of action after the CAA came into effect. “I attended protests in Jantar Mantar, and in December two meetings were held to discuss the course of action as activists decided to unite the protests instead of holding scattered protests under different banners. One was at Indian Social Institute and another at Prashant Bhushan’s office to formulate the course of action,” he said.
According to Mr. Tandon, Mr. Yadav was present at both the meetings and former JNU student Sharjeel Imam in the one at Mr. Bhushan’s office. “I didn’t know him then. During the meeting, I had suggested that we hold the protests at neutral places and he had suggested that we should also do it after Friday prayers. I had forgotten his name but was reminded when he was arrested in January,” he said, adding that police questioned him about Mr. Imam’s presence in the meeting and who invited him.
Mr. Imam has been chargesheeted by Delhi Police in the riots case on charges of sedition, promoting enmity, spreading rumours and under Sections of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Mr. Yadav’s and Mr. Roy’s names have appeared in a few chargesheets filed by police in connection with riots.