'Witch-hunt': Activists slam Umar Khalid's arrest

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NEW DELHI: A section of academicians, politicians and social activists on Monday expressed solidarity with former JNU student leader Umar Khalid, who was arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for his alleged role in the northeast Delhi riots.
He was arrested by the special cell of the Delhi Police late on Sunday night after 11 hours of interrogation.
Dr SQR Ilyas, national president of Welfare Party of India, and Khalid’s father, tweeted, “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.”

According to a statement released by his party, Ilyas strongly condemned the arrest of his son and said that police are “falsely implicating him in Delhi Riots”.
The statement quoted him as saying that Khalid has “always upheld the Constitution and emerged as a strong voice against the contentious CAA law and his approach was always peaceful, non-violent and within the parameters of law”. “His implication in Delhi Riots is totally fabricated and a false narrative created by Delhi Police to misguide the nation and stifle dissent,” he claimed.
“Dr Umar Khalid has been booked under various sections, including UAPA, and named as a conspirator of the Delhi Riots sparing those who actually instigated by giving provocative speech. He implored the citizens to stand up by the truth in solidarity with Umar Khalid and all the innocent activists who are falsely implicated in the Delhi Riots and said ultimately the truth will triumph and falsehood will perish,” the statement said.
Soon after Khalid’s arrest, #StandWIthUmarKhalid started trending on Twitter.
Using the hashtag “Stand With Umar Khalid”, senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor tweeted, “PM says he welcomes criticism, but forgets to mention the cost of criticism to be paid by those who who speak out.”
“In today’s India, payback is only reserved to our own citizens, never against countries who actually question and challenge our sovereignty,” he added.
Swaraj India chief Yogendra Yadav said Khalid is among the leaders that India deserves.
“Shocked that an anti-terror law UAPA has been used to arrest a young, thinking, idealist like @UmarKhalidJNU who has always opposed violence and communalism in any form. He is undoubtedly among the leaders that India deserves. @DelhiPolice can’t detain India’s future for long,” he tweeted.

Lawyer Prashant Bhushan said Khalid’s arrest exposes the “malafide nature of its investigation into Delhi riots”.
“Umar Khalid’s arrest by Delhi police after naming Yechury, Yogendra Yadav, [academics] Jayati Ghosh & Apoorvanand, leaves no doubt at all about the malafide nature of its investigation into Delhi riots,” he tweeted.

Activist Harsh Mandar called Khalid a youth the country should be proud of and said he always spoke of non-violence and Gandhi.
“…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,” he tweeted.
A group of academicians and activists, including Satish Deshpande, Mary John, Apoorvanand, Nandini Sundar, Shuddhabrata Sengupta, Aakar Patel, Mander, Farah Naqvi and Biraj Patnaik, have jointly issued a statement expressing solidarity with Khalid and called his arrest a “witch-hunt”.
“As citizens deeply committed to constitutional values, we condemn the arrest of Umar Khalid who has been subjected to a malicious investigation targeting peaceful anti-CAA protestors. He has been booked under several charges including UAPA, sedition and conspiracy for murder,” the joint statement said.
“With deep anguish, 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,” it said.
Coming down heavily on the Delhi Police for “falsely implicating” Khalid in the case, the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU) appealed to all progressive sections to “stand united and vigilant, and unfazed by such cowardly actions”.
“The JNUSU condemns the continuing witch hunt and targeting of activists. We reiterate that all these actions are a means to criminalise the democratic protest against the CAA-NRC-NPR which is a divisive, discriminatory and communal agenda,” it alleged.
It said JNU students Natasha Narwal, Devangana Kalita and Sharjeel Imam have been already incarcerated along with activists such as Meeran Haider, Gulfisha and a host of others.
“The police has by all accounts cooked up a version of events based on clichéd and predictably similar disclosure statements obtained under questionable circumstances from arrested people- a lot of whom were arrested after they went to report about the damage or loss of life in the riots,” the JNUSU claimed.
“The spirit of resistance and dissent against the policies of this particular government, its curbing of voices and its anti-people policies shall continue to be opposed with greater vigour and such intimidating tactics shall be rejected,” it added.




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