Khalid was one of the hundreds of voices that spoke up in favour of the Constitution across the country during the anti-CAA protests, always foregrounding the need for peaceful, non-violent and democratic means’
NEW DELHI – Prominent civil society members, including former academicians, human rights activists and intellectuals, have condemned the arrest of Umar Khalid, a human rights activist and former student of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), on Sunday night under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for instigating the North-East Delhi riots that broke out in February this year.
In a statement issued on Monday, they expressed “deep anguish” on his arrest under UAPA and said this was witch-hunting of anti-CAA activists.
“We have no doubt in saying that this investigation is not about the violence in February 2020 in the national capital, but on the completely peaceful and democratic protests across the country against the unconstitutional CAA.”
Khalid was one of the hundreds of voices that spoke up in favour of the Constitution across the country during the anti-CAA protests, always foregrounding the need for peaceful, non-violent and democratic means, the statement added.
The signatories include filmmaker Saeed Mirza, women’s rights activist Syeda Hameed, writer Arundhati Roy, artist TM Krishna, historian Ramchandra Guha, senior advocate Prashant Bhushan and author-activist Harsh Mander.
They said that his arrest in a “fictitious case of conspiracy for the Delhi violence is part of a brazen attempt to try to suppress his voice of dissent”.
The statement read: “It is very significant that of the 20 arrested, 19 are under the age of 31. Of which 17 have been charged under the draconian UAPA and have been imprisoned on charges of a conspiracy for the Delhi violence whereas those who actually instigated and participated in the violence have not been touched. Of the ones incarcerated, five are women, except for one all are also students.”
The activists also condemned the targeting of Umar Khalid and other young activists, both women and men. They demanded that measures be taken “to avoid any threat to his life and safety so long as Khalid remains in the custody of the state/judiciary.
Meanwhile, the student union of the JNU, Khalid’s alma Mater, also issued a statement condemning his arrest. The union said these actions were a means “to criminalise the democratic protest against the CAA-NRC-NPR which is a divisive, discriminatory and communal agenda of the BJP-RSS implemented by the Union Government.”
The union also mentioned the names of JNU students Natasha, Devangana, Sharjeel who have been already incarcerated along with activists such as Meeran Haider, Gulfisha, etc.
The statement termed the police cases against anti-CAA activists as “a cooked-up version of events based on clichés.”