NEW DELHI—Supporters and well-wishers of former JNU researcher Umar Khalid, who are active on Twitter and social media, are going to launch a campaign #UmarKhalidKoRihaKaro at 5 pm today, on completion of two months of his arrest under the anti-terror Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). Umar Khalid was arrested on September 13.
They are also organizing “protest songs and poetry in solidarity with the prisoners of conscience” which can be watched live on “Stand With Umar” page on Facebook at 6 pm.
“Today on 13 Nov it’s 2 months since Umar’s arrest. It’s been several months since the arrests of many more voices who sided with truth, justice, compassion and the right to equal citizenship”, said a tweet by Zuber Memon, seeking release of Umar Khalid and all others arrested in connection with anti-CAA agitation.
Umar Khalid, who has campaigned aggressively against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, was arrested on charges of conspiring the riots in Northeast Delhi in February this year that resulted in death of 53 persons, 40 of them being Muslims. CAA passed by the BJP-led Central government in December 2019 is said to be unconstitutional and is interpreted to be discriminatory to Muslims. Muslims feel that the new law is intended to make millions of Muslims aliens in their own country and put them into detention centres by confiscating their properties, houses and business and seizing their bank accounts. It was because of this reason that millions of Muslims launched peaceful agitation in each and every part of the country trying to bring pressure on the Narendra Modi government to withdraw the law. However, the agitation was in the wake of coronavirus pandemic. The anti-CAA agitation by the Muslims, mostly Muslim women, was billed as the biggest public agitation after India’s freedom movement.
Surprisingly, Delhi’s AAP government of Arvind Kejriwal gave sanction for prosecution of Umar Khalid under UAPA on November 6 though his government had for several months delayed the permission for prosecution of former JNU students’ union president Kanhaiya Kumar. Many people allege Kejriwal being close to BJP and pursuing the same agenda as that of BJP in garb of being liberal and secular. The Kejriwal government also sanctioned the prosecution of a JNU PhD student Sharjeel Imam and another youth Faizan Khan in the Delhi riots conspiracy case in which they were booked under UAPA. Justifying the sanction, Kejriwal said that the Delhi government had not stopped prosecution in any case in the last five years, including against his own party MLAs.
The police can now name them in supplementary chargesheet in the Northeast Delhi riots case.
While the riots broke after the provocative speeches given by BJP leader Kapil Mishra who threatened to use force to remove peaceful Muslim protesters from Jafrabad and other areas in northeast Delhi, the police reports say that the riots had no connection with Mishra’s speeches. No case has also been booked against Mishra. But Umar Khalid, who in his speeches, said, “We won’t respond to violence with violence. We won’t respond to hate with hate. If they spread hate, we will respond to it with love. If they thrash us with lathis, we will keep holding the tricolour (national flag)”, was charged with conspiring the riots and arrested under dreaded UAPA.
Umar’s father, Syed Qasim Rasool Ilyas, President of the Welfare Party of India, had said that the arrest of Umar Khalid and others connected with anti-CAA agitation was aimed at silencing the voices of those who dissented against the government.
Umar Khalid’s arrest had drawn widespread condemnation, including condemnation by international human rights groups, alleging that his arrest was “politically motivated”.
While Jawaharlal Nehru University TeachersAssociation had called the arrest as “withch hunting”, Amnesty International-India had said that “the government is using the UAPA to harass, intimidate and imprison peaceful student protestors. The slow investigative processes and extremely stringent bail provisions under this law ensure that they are locked up for years without trial, turning the process into punishment”. Amnesty also called asked the Delhi police “to respect the right to dissent and to stop the crackdown on peaceful protests”.