This is not the first time investigation agencies that come under Amit Shah’s Home ministry target Umar Khalid. When back in 2016, it was sedition for his role in JNU student protests, lately it is UAPA for taking part in protests against the new citizenship matrix.
Five years ago, the court found videos of Khalid raising anti-national slogans inside the Jawaharlal Nehru University campus were doctored. Thereby Khalid was released after a month of imprisonment in Tihar jail. Khalid is again in Tihar and alarmingly has completed 300 days of undertrial imprisonment.
On Wednesday, the vocal young leader Umar Khalid turned 34 and multiple charges of a million pages are filed against him.
Khalid’s father and Welfare Party of India national president Syed Qasim Rasool Ilyas tweeted wishing resilient years ahead, sharing his loss of his son’s company for a year.
“Today Umar spends his 34th birthday behind bars. For 11months he has been incarcerated in a fabricated case. My only wish for him is that this time, that can never be returned to him, makes him stronger & more resilient than before,” he wrote.
Umar was twenty-one when police barged into an apartment in his locality and left two youth killed, alleged of terrorism. It’s been more than 12 years of Batla house extrajudicial killing, and a proper judicial inquiry is yet to be done.
The police killing of Muslim youth in Batla was the beginning of Umar Khalid’s active political participation. Khalid was a college student, who traveled in and out of Jamia Nagar at a time when Muslim youth feared an anytime police arrest and interrogation. And as salt on the wound, many media vilified Jamia Nagar residents, leaving a long scar of stereotypes on them.
“What is my fault? Is it my fault that I say that this country is as much mine as it is yours? Or that I say that our country, which has people from so many different religions who speak so many different languages hailing from so many different communities, are all equal before the eyes of the law today?”, Umar Khalid asked in a video recorded before his arrest in 2020.
Referring to bailing Ashwini Upadhyay after a day’s imprisonment over anti-Muslim genocidal calls shouted barely two kilometres from parliament in front of gathered thousands, Alt News senior editor Pooja Chaudhari tweeted: “People caught on camera inciting violence are not arrested. People who organise events calling for a genocide of Muslims are released in one day. While Umar Khalid has been denied bail for over 300 days! Mockery of justice.”
To make sense of Upadhyay’s Muslim hate, Khalid’s words will help, “They are trying to scare us, but as a consequence, they are also trying to scare you. They are silencing us and putting us behind bars of jails, but they are also putting you behind bars of fear and falsehood.”
As barrister and journalist, Suchithra Vijayan tweeted: “Remember that there is no evidence against Umar, Delhi Police named him as a co-conspirator of the 2020 Delhi pogrom and charged him with UAPA based on a video clip circulated by BJP leaders and right-wing media houses shared without context.”
They are “trying to divide us and anyone who dares to speak against this politics of division: they are intimidated, they are cornered, and they are jailed in order to curb their voice,” Khalid says in his video statement seeing through the state machinery.
“Today is Umar’s birthday. Umar was born as an independent citizen in India, but today he is imprisoned on fake charges. I pray that Umar will get freedom soon,” posted Asif Iqbal Tanha, Jamia student leader, and recently bailed after charges of UAPA in the same case.
Khalid’s father tweeted what their days look like:
“A police officer showed up at our house today assuming that my wife and daughters were going to the protest at Jantar Mantar. He then stayed outside our building till 5 pm to monitor their movements. Such intimidation tactics only prove how afraid the govt is of peaceful dissenting voices,” he said.
Several student leaders including Jamia students Asif Iqbal Tanha and Safoora Zargar, JNU students Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalitha were also booked under UAPA and later bailed.
Nabiya Khan, poet and activist who questioned the recent objectification of Muslim women through “Sulli deals”, tweeted: “To the person who never finds peace at half-truths, injustice, & oppression, to someone who inspires me to be a better person every day, to someone whose lively spirit keeps spreading hope, even from behind bars, to a friend, a confidant, a mentor. #HappyBirthdayUmar #UmarKhalid.”