Nation Cries Foul as Delhi Police Arrest Student Activist Umar Khalid

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Umar Khalid

Hashtag ‘Stand With Umar Khalid’ trends in which police are accused of following a script of silencing the dissent

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Mohd Aasif | Clarion India

NEW DELHI—Delhi Police Special Cell arrested student activist Umar Khalid late Sunday night under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). This came after 11 hours of interrogation. The police accused him of being a “conspirator” in the Delhi Riots case.

The arrest was confirmed by his father through a Tweet. “My son Umar Khalid has been arrested tonight at 11:00 pm by Special Cell, Delhi Police under UAPA. Police was questioning him since 1:00 pm. He has been implicated in Delhi Riots. #StandWithUmarKhalid”, wrote SQR Ilyas, who also heads Welfare Party of India.

Umar Khalid has been named in the main FIR of the riots which devastated the northeastern part of the capital in late February. Khalid as well as other activists have rejected Delhi Police’s claim. They accuse the police of following a script of implicating anti-CAA protesters to silence dissent.

Umar Khalid has been questioned in the past and his phone seized. Police had in March registered a case against Khalid and others, accusing them of being part of a “premeditated conspiracy” to foment trouble in north-east Delhi.

The FIR claimed that the former Jawaharlal Nehru University student gave provocative speeches asking people to block traffic during the visit of United States President Donald Trump to attract the international community’s attention.

However, former civil servant Harsh Mander has different view about Khalid. Praising his commitment to non-violence, he tweeted, “#StandWithUmarKhalid He’s a youth a country should be proud of – idealistic, progressive, brave. We spoke together in anti-CAA protests: he spoke always of non-violence & Gandhi. Today he’s arrested under draconian UAPA on trumped up charges of conspiracy. Cry out, my country”.

With his arrest, a hashtag to Stand With Umar Khalid got trended. Congress Youth leader Srivatsa tweeted, “Kapil Mishra screamed ‘Goli Maaro’ in his hate speech which had a big role to play in the riots. Forget arrest or UAPA, there was not even a FIR against him. What has Umar Khalid done? The BJP govt is purposefully hounding him. Will the judiciary uphold liberty? #StandWithUmarKhalid”

Supreme Court Lawyer Karuna Nundy quoted Umar Khalid from his speech at a protest site in northeast Delhi, which Delhi Police find “provocative”. “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 keep holding the tricolour.” –@UmarKhalidJNU #StandWithUmarKhalid #FreeUmarKhalid”, her tweet reads.

JNUSU President Aishe Ghosh also extended her support, she tweeted comparing the slogans of Kapil Mishra and Umar Khalid. “Kapil Mishra, Anurag Thakur said “Goli Maaro Saalo Ko !” Anti-CAA protestors said ” Hum Desh Bachane , Samvidhan Bachane Nikle hain, Aao humare saath chalo !” Safeguarding the constitution and democracy have officially become a CRIME in our country! #StandWithUmarKhalid”.

A day before his arrest, Delhi Police named him in a different FIR along with CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, DU Prof Apoorvanad, Prof Jayati Ghosh, filmmaker Rahul Roy and Swaraj India leader Yogender Yadav.

Shortly after the news of his arrest spread, a handful  of concerned civil society activists in Delhi issued a joint statement condemning the arrest. The termed the investigation of Khalid as “malicious”.

They said the questioning and arrest of Umar Khalid  “are part of a brazen attempt to try to suppress his voice of dissent”.

The notable signatories are: Ravi Kiran Jain, V Suresh, Mihir Desai, ND Pancholi, Satish Deshpande, Mary John, Apoorvanand, Aakar Patel, Harsh Mander, Farah Naqvi, Biraj Patnaik, Nandini Sundar

“The essence of our democracy is the freedom of conscience and the strength of any country is in its young minds. We strongly condemn the targeting of Umar Khalid and other young activists, both women and men.”

While citing the observations of the court on media coverage against anti-CAA activists, the statement said the media trial must cease by all means. “If left onto the course of law, we are confident that justice would prevail.”

United Against Hate (UAG), the organisation Khalid co-founded, issued a statement condemning his arrest. It said that Delhi Police is spinning a “fairytale narrative” to implicate anti-CAA activist.

The organisation which has been at the forefront of anti-CAA protests expressed their resolve that “the fight against draconian CAA and UAPA will go on despite all these horrid measures of intimidation.”

The statement said, “Right now, our first priority is that he should be given maximum security and the Delhi Police must ensure his safety by all means possible.”

 

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