Umar Khalid completes three years in jail

Today, 13 September 2023, marks three years since Umar Khalid, a young human rights defender who was targeted by the Hindu nationalist BJP government for his dissents against discriminatory citizenship acts, has been jailed under draconian terror law.

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

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 15 April, 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 three years, 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.

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.

Earlier, 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:

Supreme Court agrees to hear Umar Khalid’s bail plea

The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear the bail plea of Khalid. The top court has listed the matter for hearing after four weeks. A bench of Justices Bela M Trivedi and Aniruddha Bose said the case would have to be heard at length and needs to be decided after going through the documentary evidence.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing Umar Khalid, said: “Certain provisions of the UAPA, including those related to terrorism, fundraising for terrorist activities, and conspiracy, do not apply to this case. I can demonstrate to the court how specific sections that are part of the chargesheet do not correspond.”

The bench then stated, “We will grant leave now and list the case for a hearing after four weeks. You have to present evidence to us demonstrating the disparity between the available evidence and the charges leveled against you.”