Intellectuals numbering more than 200 have come together to raise their voice against the recent arrest of former JNU student and activist Umar Khalid. These national and international scholars constitute a prominent voice and their coming together to protest against his arrest points at a growing discontent among the academic community.
Activist Umar Khalid has been arrested in the context of his alleged role in the Delhi riots that shook the Capital in February. 200 signatories have come together to protest against the arrest of Umar Khalid. The signatories have also said that the arrest of Umar Khalid is nothing but a “pre-mediated witch hunt”. They have also alleged that Umar Khalid has been falsely implicated under the UAPA by the Delhi Police.
They have demanded from the government that activist Umar Khalid be freed with urgency along with many other activists and thinkers who too, according to them, have been falsely implicated in the Delhi riots case. They have also demanded that the investigation that is carried out by the Delhi Police be conducting with impartiality and in accordance with the oath that they took as servants of the Constitution of India. Some of the prominent people who have signed the appeal to free Umar Khalid are Noam Chomsky, Amitav Ghosh, Arundhati Roy, Ramachandra Guha and Rajmohan Gandhu, Romila Thapae, Irfan Habib, Medha Patkar and Aruna Roy. The appeal reads, “We stand in solidarity and outrage, with the brave young scholar and activist Umar Khalid…He is charged with sedition, conspiracy to murder, and under sections of India’s stringent antiterror law, the UAPA. This process of criminalising all dissent has been underway for a few tears and even under a COVID-19 pandemic, relentless political arrests under fabricated charges are punishing the innocent long before they are brought to trial.”
The signatories have also asserted that the Anti-CAA protests were the biggest attempt to ignite democratic upsurge in the country and that they were a peaceful movement in independent India. They also said that such protests were carried out in the vision of Mahatma Gandhi and embodied the spirit of the Indian Constitution under the leadership of B.R. Ambedkar.