Umar Khalid, the infamous JNU ‘scholar’, has been arrested by Delhi Police in connection with its investigation into the Delhi Riots. He has been charged under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and is expected to be produced before the Court on Monday. The Police have informed that a chargesheet will be filed against him in the days to come.
As expected, his arrest has triggered a meltdown among liberals. Some have called for scrapping the UAPA itself while others have hailed him as “undoubtedly among the leaders that India deserves”. But there is good reason for the reputation that Umar Khalid has acquired over the years. Some of it is due to his background but mostly, it is entirely a consequence of his own actions.
Umar Khalid first shot to infamy during the ‘Tukde Tukde’ episode in 2016. On the 9th of February, 2016, protests were organised at the Jawaharlal Nehru University to commemorate terrorist Afzal Guru’s death anniversary. Numerous dangerous slogans were raised at the event, the most prominent among them being ‘Bharat tere tukde honge, Inshallah Inshallah’ and ‘Bharat tere barbaadi tak, Jung chalegi’.
Following the incident, the government cracked down on the protesters. Comrade Kanhaiya Kumar was initially arrested before being released and was made to pay a fine of Rs. 10,000. Umar Khalid was rusticated by the University for a semester, he had been arrested previously in the same matter along with Kanhaiya Kumar before being released.
In the subsequent chargesheet that was filed in the JNU Sedition Case, Comrade Kanhaiya and Umar Khalid were booked along with others. Only recently, the Delhi Government gave sanction for their prosecution. The approval was welcomed by the ‘scholar’. He claimed that he has full faith in the Judiciary and will be vindicated.
Umar Khalid’s father, interestingly, was a member of the now banned Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). After having quit the organisation, now his father is now a member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB). In fact, it was SQR Iliyas who had announced the AIMPLB’s decision to file review petition against the Ayodhya verdict that paved the way for the Bhavya Ram Mandir at Janmabhoomi.
SQR Ilyas has, in the past, contested the Lok Sabha Elections from West Bengal on a ticket from the Welfare Party of India (WPI) from the Jangipur constituency, a Muslim-dominated seat in Murshidabad district. The former SIMI member is now a member of Central Advisory Council of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind and served as convener of Babri Masjid Coordination Committee.
Umar Khalid, meanwhile, has staunchly maintained that he is a Communist and an atheist; even though his stance on political matters rarely varies from his ideologically committed devout Muslim father. two days after the brutal murder of Kamlesh Tiwari by Jihadists for blasphemy against Islam, he prostrated profusely before prophet Mohammed and blamed Hinduitva for fueling divisions instead in a bid to deflect attention from the deep-seated radicalism that pervades vast sections of the Muslim community. Later, in an article, he passionately defended his decision to crawl before the Muslim prophet, as an atheist of course.
During the JNU sedition fracas, he had also appeared on Arnab Goswami’s newshour debate on Times Now. In the debate, Umar Khalid had vociferously defended Afzal Guru and said that there were many, such Arundhati Roy, who had questioned the death penalty awarded to him. He had also said that there were many who questioned whether Afzal was even involved in the attack on the Indian Parliament.
The ‘communist atheist’ had also claimed that Afzal was not given a fair trial and passionately defended the terrorist. He admitted that the slogans were raised but said that it was only raised by some people from Kashmir. However, he continued to accuse everyone else of bigotry even as he defended a terrorist. He claimed that the system was built on injustice.
Umar Khalid further claimed that over a lakh people had been killed in Kashmir and hundreds of women had been raped by the Indian Army. Arnab Goswami labelled their actions anti-national. For a person who calls himself a ‘Communist atheist’, his passion towards furthering the cause of Radical Islam is indeed worth noting.
In a speech on the 22nd of February, 2016, at the JNU campus, he had also claimed that it was the United States of America that was responsible for the tensions between India and Pakistan. Quoting a Pakistani poet, he had said, “Hindustan bhi mera hai aur Pakistan bhi mera hai, Par in dono mulqon mein Amrika ka dera hai”. It roughly translates tom “Hindustan is mine, Pakistan is also mine, but between these two countries, it is America that has created strife.” Umar Khalid had then proceeded to accuse his opponents of being American agents.
Umar Khalid is also associated with the United Against Hate (UAH) which launched a campaign against the Citizenship Amendment Act in collaboration with PUCL and others. PUCL is an organisation that has intimate links with the ‘Urban Naxals’ arrested in the Bhima Koregaon Case. UAH itself collaborates with organisations such as Bhim Army, Jamaat-e-Islami, Jamiat Ulema-e-hind, Jamaat-e-Islami and Alpsankhyak Adhikar. Khalid Saifi, the founder of UAH, has been arrested in the Delhi Riots case as a key conspirator.
The role of Umar Khalid first figured in connection with the communal riots in Delhi when a speech of his allegedly made on the 20th of February surfaced. In the speech, he said that Muslims should ‘show’ the visiting US president that the people of India are fighting against the ruling party of India. Donald Trump was scheduled to visit on the 24th of February and the riots broke out during his official visit.
The chargesheets filed thus far in the matter assert that Umar Khalid was in touch with Tahir Hussain, another key conspirator, through Khalid Saifi. Khalid Saifi, the chargsesheet filed in FIR 114 says, had arranged a meeting between Umar Khalid and Tahir Hussain on the 8th of January at Shaheen Bagh. At that meeting, it was decided that ‘big action’ would be taken to internationalise the issue.
Thus, quite clearly, Umar Khalid may claim to be a ‘Communist atheist’ but actions speak louder than words. It might have been convenient for certain sections of the media to brand him an atheist but time and again, he has demonstrated through his actions that his political stances do not vary at all from Islamists. Now that he has been arrested, the Court will now decided whether there is sufficient evidence available to deem him guilty for his alleged role in the Delhi riots.