"I am highly optimistic that my son will walk out of the jail very soon,” asserted Sabiha Khanum at a press conference called in solidarity with the incarcerated activist on the completion of his two years in jail.
“IT is difficult to cope with the situation that we are in. How can a mother live in peace whose son is languishing in jail. In fact, every mother can understand what it feels like when her son is languishing in jail. All the same I’m proud of son. Despite all the odds his courage has not diminished by even one per cent.”
These were the words Sabiha Khanum, the brave mother of Umar Khalid on the completion of two years in jail. She was speaking at a press conference held at the Press Club of India, Delhi in solidarity with the activist who is incarcerated in jail ever since he was arrested by the Delhi Police on fabricated charges of conspiring to foment communal violence during former US President Donald Trump’s visit to India in 2020.
On Tuesday, 13 September 2022, activist Umar Khalid completed two years in Delhi’s Tihar Jail after being arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, and he still awaits trial. He is facing charges under the draconian UAPA and 18 other sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), including murder and attempt to murder.
Speaking to The Quint at the solidarity meet for Khalid at the press club, Sabiha Khanum recounted the ordeal of her family ever since her son was put behind bars and the injustice meted out to him even though he is innocent.
However she exuded confidence when she said, “I am highly optimistic that my son will walk out of the jail very soon. I spoke to Umar last week, he always speaks cheerfully. I keep on trying to motivate him and ask him to keep his hopes high. Not just bail, but all cases against him should be closed off or withdrawn.”
The Delhi High Court had last week reserved its order on Khalid’s bail plea.
Speaking at an event, ‘In pursuit of Justice’ here, Supreme Court advocate Shah Rukh Alam claimed that the FIR against Khalid is “nothing but a political document” and that there is no “substantial evidence” against the accused.
“When the court tells us to keep politics away’, it is mostly when someone questions the policies of the government. FIR number 59 of 2020 doesn’t mention any offence and there’s no substantial evidence in the FIR. It is purely a political document and so was the state’s counter during Khalid’s bail hearing,” Alam.
JNUSU President Aishe Ghosh said that the government “tends to take action” against those “who question their policies”.
“Umar always discussed the injustice that happened, not just within the campus, but also outside it. That is what made his voice distinct and hence, the people in power are scared of students like him. The fight of all political prisoners will continue even though this government tends to take action against all those who question their policies,” she said.
During his bail plea hearing, Khalid said that there was no material to support the case of the prosecution against him and that he raised issues that several others were discussing in the country, including those concerning the Citizenship Amendment Act.
Khalid, Sharjeel Imam, and several others were booked under the anti-terror law UAPA, and provisions of the Indian Penal Code for allegedly being the “masterminds” of the February 2020 riots, which had left 53 people dead and over 700 injured.
The violence erupted during the protests against CAA and NRC. In a letter to his friend written from the prison premises, Khalid said that he feels lonely and pessimistic at times.
“How do we fight against this monstrous machine of lies and falsehood? The purveyors of hate and falsehood have so many resources ” money, pliant 24×7 news channels, lots of them, troll armies, and the police too.
To be honest, it makes me feel pessimistic at times. At times I also feel lonely. Lots of people far more privileged than me who were together in this fight against fascism, in the movement against CAA-NRC/NPR, today choose to remain silent when I am singled out for these lies.
“It makes you feel unwanted. It makes you feel like a stranger in your own land. The only thing I find succour in such moments is the realisation that none of this is personal. That my persecution and isolation is symbolic of something larger — the persecution and isolation of Muslims in India right now,” Khalid said in the letter shared with the online portal The Wire.
Cover photo: Press conference held at the Press Club of India, New Delhi on Tuesday in solidarity with incarcerated activist Umar Khalid. The conference was addressed among others by the mother of the activist.