Human rights defenders, lawyers, and journalists came together on Monday to demand the release of young activist Umar Khalid, claiming that he is under “unjust imprisonment” for one year.
Monday marked one year since Umar Khalid was arrested in a case related to the northeast Delhi violence after taking part in protests against the proposed NRC and CAA and charged under draconian UAPA and sedition laws.
Addressing a public meeting at Delhi Press Club on the first anniversary of the incarceration of former JNU student leader, speakers like former Planning Commission member and women’s rights activist Syeda Hameed, Muslim scholar, and former Delhi Minorities Commission chairman Zafarul Islam Khan, Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan, member of the Parliament Manoj Jha, journalists Siddharth Vardarajan and Bharat Bhushan and farmer leader Jasbeer Kaur said that “dubious evidence was being used to rob bright young people like Khalid and many others of their freedom.”
Questioning the charge sheet by Delhi police against Khalid and more than 15 activists, students, and politicians, The Wire editor Vardarajan alleged the government was looking at “criminalising anti-CAA protestors to cover up the perpetrators of the Delhi riots.”
The charge sheet described Khald as a ‘veteran of sedition.’ Charged under the draconian UAPA, the Arms Act, Damage to Public Property Act and various sections of the IPC, the chargesheet is based on a speech that Khalid delivered in Amravati (Maharashtra) on January 17, more than a month before the Delhi pogrom.
“His only fault was to uphold the Constitution and oppose CAA, NPR, NRC. He saluted the women of Shaheen Bagh in Amaravati and called for upholding Gandhiji”s ideals,” said Syeda Hameed.
For lawyer Bhushan the Delhi police’s investigation into the “conspiracy” behind northeast Delhi violence is not an investigation of a conspiracy and “it’s rather a conspiracy to frame innocents and cover-up real perpetrators.”
“It is necessary that the police who investigated the matter should be held accountable,” he added.
“The government,” RJD MP Manoj Jha alleged, “could not deal with Shaheen Bagh, hence it resorted to demonising it.”
With inputs from PTI