“Missing you Umar,” wrote Syed Qasim Rasool Ilyas, one of India’s leading Muslim intellectuals on Twitter a day before Eid al-Adha as his son and prominent human rights defender Umar Khalid spends another Eid in jail under draconian charges.
“3 consecutive Eids without Umar Khalid makes us realise the significance of the sacrifice of our beloved prophets Ibrahim and Ismail. May our sacrifices be accepted and help in making this world a better place,” tweeted Ilyas.
Umar Khalid is in jail facing draconian charges under the ‘anti-terror’ law UAPA for making speeches during the mass protests against a controversial and anti-Muslim citizenship law.
Khalid, 34, along with more than a dozen other Muslims, is accused by the Delhi Police of being part of a “larger conspiracy” that led to an anti-Muslim pogrom in New Delhi in February 2020.
The pogrom followed peaceful sit-ins across the country, mainly organised by Muslim women, against the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in 2019.
Khalid was arrested on September 13, 2020, under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
“When my son was arrested, I knew that they weren’t going to let him out easily, when I saw the First Information Report (FIR), it had 28 sections, including UAPA and the arms act. His case was fabricated, we knew that the government wanted to take action against all those activists who protested against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). But I really didn’t know that it would take them this long,” Ilyas told Maktoob last month.
Last month while denying bail to Khalid, the Delhi court said there are “reasonable grounds” to believe that the allegations against him are “prima facie true” and “hence, the present application for bail of accused Umar Khalid stands dismissed”.
In a statement shortly after the bail was denied, Amnesty India’s chief Aakar Patel said: “Umar’s continued detention for over 18 months comes against the backdrop of a rapidly shrinking space for critical voices and sets a chilling precedent for anyone whose views the authorities disagree with.”
“As a mother, these two years have been really hard for me. While eating food or when the temperature is very harsh, I am often reminded of my son and how he would be dealing with things. I often go out deliberately to feel how Umar would be feeling in this harsh weather. I open my eyes in the morning with his thought in my mind,” Sabina Khanum, mother of the jailed activist said to Maktoob.
“During these two years, whenever I have spoken to him, he has never complained. He just continues smiling on the video calls,” she said.