“I wish Khalid was here to see that his children are now old enough to fast in Ramadan,” says Nargis Saifi, wife of the jailed Muslim activist, Khalid Saifi. Saifi and a dozen other Muslim activists booked under UAPA for the Delhi pogrom conspiracy case will be spending their Ramadan in Tihar jail.
“He along with other prison mates arranged the Iftar for everyone in the jail,” Nargis Saifi told Maktoob. Muslims in India started fasting last week marking the beginning of the holy month.
Khalid Saifi was arrested on 26 February last year amidst the anti-Muslim killing spree that lasted a week in Northeast Delhi. Saifi was later implicated in FIR 59, the investigation that accuses anti-CAA protests in Delhi of a conspiracy to orchestrate the Delhi pogrom.
“They couldn’t break his spirit then and they couldn’t now,” says the heartbroken wife of Khalid Saifi.
In July 2017 Khalid and friends launched a campaign ‘United Against Hate in response to the series of lynchings that had increased post-2014 elections. When Citizenship Amendment Act was passed in the parliament in December 2019, UAH gave its full support to the campaign against CAA, NRC and NPR. From giving supplies to providing medical aid.
“He couldn’t sleep for days when he returned back from Assam. He was devastated when he told me how some members of the same family were thrown in detention centres when they didn’t have the papers to prove their citizenship.”
On 26 February the Delhi police brutally lathi-charged and opened fire at protestors in Khureji where the residents were peacefully protesting against the citizen amendment act. Khalid Saifi was detained and later arrested when he tried to talk police out of it.
“We had just finished our breakfast when Khalid started receiving calls; I didn’t know what was going on until I heard voices outside my house. Khalid told me that police had opened fire at the protest site. He immediately left, sometimes I wish I should have stopped him,” recalls Nargis Saifi.
Nargis told Maktoob that Khalid had been in trouble with the police before but the line of connection was never broken, “I knew something was wrong when I couldn’t reach his cell phone. That night, I received a call from an unknown number – ‘come and meet me, they are transferring me to the Mandoli jail said Khalid’ – he sounded sad and helpless and then I realized that they had broken him”.
“I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw him in a wheelchair, his muscles were fractured and he couldn’t walk.”
Khalid was primarily named in FIR 44 that’s was filed in Jagatpuri police station. However, he was later booked in FIRs 101 and 59. Khalid got bail in two cases but remain under judicial custody for FIR 59 in which activists like Safoora Zargar, Meeran Haidar, Asif Tanha, Umar Khalid and dozen others are booked under stringent anti-terrorism law UAPA.
The Delhi Police also charged him with Sections 147 (rioting), 186 (obstructing public servant from discharging duty), 149 (unlawful assembly), 148 (rioting, with weapon), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from doing duty) and 307 (attempt to murder).
Ramadan in Jail
“We think it’s very difficult to fast in this blistering summer but this is nothing compared to what he faces inside there but this is the thing with Khalid he never complains,” says Nargis.
“He has always been resilient and optimistic and said that they could put him behind bars but not his voice”.
Saifi sent a letter to his family through his son who went to meet his father in jail. He wrote how he leads the prayers in the jail and how his faith in the almighty has become stronger. He had wistfully put down his words of longing for his family.
“Khalid would tell me that this place is much better and that he celebrates all the festivals together in the jail. He told me that he bought sweets for everyone on Diwali with the money that we sent him.”
“I remember asking him that why does he participates in the protests when this isn’t going to affect us, he told me he isn’t doing it for himself but for our people” she added.
Noorail Khan is an undergrad student of business administration in Jaipur and an intern with Maktoob.