Anti-CAA activist and Former Jawaharlal Nehru University student Umar Khalid have been arrested by the Delhi police late on Sunday for his alleged role in the communal violence that broke out in North East Delhi in February.
The Delhi Police’s Special Cell arrested Khalid under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act after nearly 11 hours of questioning. His mobile phone has been seized by the police, according to PTI.
“After 11 hours of interrogation, the Delhi Police Special Cell has arrested Umar Khalid as a conspirator in the Delhi Riots case. The fairy tale narrative that DP (Delhi Police) has been spinning and criminalising protests in the garb of investigating riots, finds yet another victim,” United Against Hate, an activist group whose member is Umar Khalid, said in a statement on Sunday.
Activists call Umar Khalid’s 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,” the statement says. “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.”
“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.”
They said that the right to life was “not just to be allowed to eat, live and breathe; it is to live without fear, with dignity and with freedom of expression, including dissent” and that the “objective of this witch hunt” the police have launched in the name of an investigation is “to silence democratic voices and instill fear.”
The signatories to the statement are Ravi Kiran Jain and V. Suresh of the Peoples Union for Civil Liberties, lawyers Mihir Desai, and N.D. Pancholi, academics Satish Deshpande, Mary John, Apoorvanand, Nandini Sundar and Shuddhabrata Sengupta, and rights activists Aakar Patel, Harsh Mander, Farah Naqvi, and Biraj Patnaik.
Charged under UAPA
In April, the former JNU student was charged under the UAPA in another case related to the violence. He was accused of instigating the violence by reportedly making violence-inciting speeches.
Khalid had vehemently denied any allegations linking him to these cases. “It is an upside-down world that we are living in, in which these organizations and individuals that have worked for communal harmony are being implicated,” he had said.
Umar Khalid’s arrest comes amid a major political row over Delhi Police’s recently released supplementary charge sheet. The 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 people who incited violence.
One of the worst violence seen in Delhi since the anti-Sikh riots of 1984, the communal violence led to the death of 53 people, including a policeman.
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