Delhi Riots: Probe Aimed at Silencing Dissent, Say Activists After Umar Khalid’s Arrest

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Eminent activists including prominent lawyer Prashant Bhushan and former member of the Planning Commission of India, Syeda Hameed, Delhi University Professor Nandita Narayan and CPI (ML) leader Kavita Krishnan among others attended a press conference organised on Wednesday at Press Club of India, New Delhi, to condemn the arrest of Umar Khalid and other anti-CAA activists by Delhi Police for Delhi riots.

The alleged partisan role of the Delhi Police personnel during the February violence was criticised during the press conference which was also attended by Khalid’s parents.

Mohd Aasif | Clarion India

NEW DELHI – A couple of days after the arrest of former JNU student and anti-CAA protester Umar Khalid, activists from different backgrounds called a press conference on Tuesday, calling the Delhi police investigations into the February violence as “criminalising and aimed at silencing dissent.”

The Delhi police arrested Khalid and booked him under the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), for premeditating the north-east Delhi violence during US President Donald Trump’s visit. The Delhi riots saw the loss of 53 human lives as also destruction of property and livelihoods,  and attacks on places of worship.

Writer and former member of the Planning Commission of India, Syeda Hameed said that the Delhi police were running a new narrative which can be known as Delhi-2020.

“We are running towards a theocratic country madly”, she added.

She further quoted an Urdu poet to explain the situation. “Yeh dastoor-e-zuban bandi hai kaisi teri duniya me/ yahan to baat karne ko tarasti hai zabaan meri” (What a tradition of tongue picking in your world; it craves to speak here).

The alleged partisan role of the Delhi Police personnel was criticised during the press conference which was also attended by Khalid’s parents. Eminent Supreme Court lawyer and activist Prashant Bhushan said, “There should be an inquiry on the actions of the Delhi police same as it happened during the anti-Sikh Delhi riots of 1984”.

Calling the BJP regime a ‘Danav Raj’ (Rule of Demons), Delhi University Professor Nandita Narayan said that Khalid and other students were the “Modern Day Saints” and “Role Models” as they have come out for the people of the country, leaving their own problems behind. She said, “We have seen them growing in front of our eyes. They are among the best students”.

Attacking the Central government, CPI (ML) leader Kavita Krishnan said that the government has 40-GB data against students and protesters but no data on migrants.

“Kapil Mishra and others are still instigating people on social media”, she added.

Supporters of Khalid and others held under UAPA, who attended the press meet, wore special masks with slogans like ‘We are all for Umar Khalid’, ‘We are all for Natasha Narwal, Asif Iqbal, Gulifsha’ and so on.

During the press conference, a two-minute video of Umar Khalid was screened. “I gave a 17-minute speech out of which 20-30 seconds is being made viral stating that I conspired in the north-east Delhi riots. The part, where I had talked about satyagraha, is nowhere to be heard. The ones who spoke up are being put behind bars but my message to everyone is that one must not be scared but speak out against injustice. What is my crime? Is it saying that it is my country too equally,” he is heard saying in the video.

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