Sunday, May 19, 2024

Umar Khalid completes 1000 days in jail

Photo: Shakeeb KPA/Maktoob

9 June 2023 will mark 1000 days of incarceration of Umar Khalid, one of the country’s rights defenders who were targeted by the Hindu nationalist BJP government for their disagreements and dissents.

Khalid who was arrested on 13 September 2020, is booked under terror law, UAPA, in a conspiracy case that burdens the responsibility of the 2020 anti-Muslim pogrom in Delhi on Muslim activists.

Khalid was targeted for leading peaceful protests opposing the discriminatory Citizen Amendment Act (CAA).

Khalid is charged under FIR 59/2020 with offenses under the IPC, 1967 Arms Act, and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). Charges include but are not limited to rioting (Sec. 147 IPC), rioting with a deadly weapon (Sec. 148 IPC), murder (Sec. 302 IPC), attempted murder (Sec. 307 IPC), sedition (Sec. 124A IPC), “promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony” (Sec. 153A IPC), unlawful activities (Sec. 13 UAPA), terrorist acts (Sec. 16 UAPA), raising funds for terrorist acts (Sec. 17 UAPA), and conspiracy (Sec. 18 UAPA).

On April 15, 2021, a Delhi court granted Khalid bail.  Khalid, however, was forced to remain in prison in light of other draconian charges against him.

In the past 1000 days, Umar Khalid, who is currently awaiting trial, has spent the majority of his time in jail, with the exception of a week. During this period, he was granted a seven-day interim bail to attend his sister’s wedding, after already spending over 800 days incarcerated.

Umar Khalid’s friends and activists will gather today at the Press Club of India to commemorate his 1000 days in jail. The event will focus on a discussion centered around the themes of “Democracy, Dissent, and Censorship.” The organizers have confirmed the participation of several notable individuals including RJD MP Manoj Jha, Umar Khalid’s father SQR Ilyas, esteemed academic Prabhat Patnaik, renowned journalist Ravish Kumar, lawyer Shahrukh Alam, and activist Gurmehar Kaur.

Several international and national bodies including United Nations have flagged the Delhi Police investigation against Khalid and other Muslim activists as “bogus” and an attempt to silent dissidents.

Five months ago, Khalid’s mother Dr Sabiha Khanum said that her “son is in jail not for himself but for the nation.”

Watch the full interview here:

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