Umar Khalid, former JNU student, activist, and a social worker was arrested on 13th September 2020, late Sunday night after 11 hours of questioning by the special cell of Delhi police. Khalid has been booked under the UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act) because of his alleged role in the North-East Delhi communal violence.
During February, violent clashes broke out between two groups, one who were supporting the CAA ( Citizenship Amendment Bill) and the other who were protesting against it. The clashes went on for four days in the North-East part of Delhi, injuring many and leaving 53 dead.
Khalid’s name first appeared in the charge-sheet submitted by the Delhi police against suspended Aam Aadmi Party councilor Tahir Hussain. The charge-sheet stated that on 8th January 2020, Hussain met Khalid and United Against Hate co-founder Khalid Saifi at Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh during a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act, where “Umar Khalid told him to be prepared for something big/riots at the time of the visit of US President (Donald Trump)”.
Police stated that an FIR was lodged on 6th March 2020 against Khalid, which states: “Khalid allegedly gave provocative speeches at two different places and appealed to the citizens to come out on the streets and block the roads during the visit of US President Donald Trump to spread propaganda at the international level about how minorities in India are being persecuted.”
Arvind Kumar, Sub-Inspector of the narcotics unit of Crime Branch alleged in the FIR that as part of the conspiracy, firearms, petrol bombs, acid bottles, and stones were stored at homes in Kardampuri, Jafrabad, Chand Bagh, Gokulpuri, Shiv Vihar, and nearby areas. “The co-accused, Danish, was given the responsibility to gather people from different places to take part in the violence… Women and children were made to block the roads under the Jafrabad Metro Station on February 23 to create tension amidst the neighborhood people. The same day, schools of minority children (were) vacated under their premeditated conspiracy,” the FIR states.
This probe was later transferred to the Special Investigation Team of the Special Cell, who summoned Khalid on Saturday and arrested him on Sunday. According to a police source, Khalid was also brought in for questioning on 31st July 2020, when his mobile phone was seized by the police.
Khalid’s lawyer, Trideep Paris, in a statement said that the allegations against Khalid were “completely false, fabricated and procured illegally through duress”.
During a press conference on September 4, Khalid had said that there were two kinds of law being followed- one for the supporters of the ruling party and another for the common people against whom “evidence was being manufactured”. “There is an attempt to rewrite history of the past 6 months in front of our eyes and give it an official stamp” he had said.
Khalid is to be produced before a court in Delhi on Monday, according to sources Delhi police will be filing a chargesheet against Khalid in the coming days.
The arrest came a day after the Delhi Police named Communist Party of India (Marxist) Secretary General Sitaram Yechury, economist Jayati Ghosh, Delhi University professor Apoorvanand, Swaraj Abhiyan leader Yogendra Yadav, and documentary filmmaker Rahul Roy as people who had “encouraged” the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protestors as part of a plan.
United Against Hate, a group Umar Khalid is a member of said in a statement “The fairy tale narrative that DP [Delhi Police] has been spinning and criminalising protests in the garb of investigating riots, finds yet another victim,”
Student activist Gurmehar Kaur tweeted the statement Mr. Khalid had allegedly made. “ ‘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 tricolor.’
–Umar Khalid #FREEUMARKHALID” she said.
Many Twitterati came out in support of Khalid and condemned the arrest made by the Delhi Police, some tweets which trended were: