Umar Khalid, the Jawaharlal Nehru PhD candidate, who went underground to avoid capture by the Delhi Police for allegedly organizing an event to mark the third anniversary of Afzal Guru’s execution, has spoken out against the Modi government and those media outlets which have attacked him over the past week.
“If the Jaish-e-Mohammed knows that I’m being called their member, they may do a dharna in front of the RSS headquarters. On a lighter note, my name is Umar Khalid and I am not a terrorist,” he said.
“In the past few days, I have got to know things about myself which even I didn’t know,” Khalid said, as some students in the crowd chuckled. “I don’t have a passport but I’ve come to know that I’ve gone twice to Pakistan.”
A large number of students had gathered outside the administrative block and shouted slogans in support for Umar Khalid, Anant Prakash Narayan, Ashutosh Kumar, Rama Naga and Anirban Bhattacharya.
“In the last seven years in campus I never felt I was a Muslim and in last 10 days I was made to feel, I was a Muslim. I am Umar Khalid and I’m not a terrorist,” said Khalid, who fled the campus after the incident.
“The attack (on the university) is not because of the programme which was organised on February 9, but because the government needs an excuse to attack us,” Khalid said, addressing students in front of the admin block at the campus.
He also condemned the media trial that branded him a terrorist. “The media, all this while, presented a lot of things about me. The media trial, this propaganda… I know what my family is going through,” he said.
Khalid told a gathering of students: “No, I did not make any calls to Kashmir or the Gulf (as was reported by a section of the media)…. I know what my parents and sisters went through. I saw the filthy threats on my sister’s Facebook wall. They would say ‘Bharat Mata ki jai‘. It reminded me of how nuns were raped in Kandhamal by goons who said ‘Bharat Mata ki jai’.”
He added: “In 1947, we had a tryst with destiny; today our tryst is with reality. It is up to us who we stand with in this hour.”
The five “absconding” JNU students surfaced late Sunday night on the campus.
Former JNUSU president Ashutosh Kumar said that Left groups were present on February 9 to defend the freedom of expression even though they didn’t agree with the organisers.
“We were seeing the papers. We read about the barbarism in court and also about the support we got. When we took the auto from JNU, the autowallah called this campus ‘Pakistan’. We got strength from news of the rally on the 18th. I love campus politics and I can’t stay away from it,” he said.
“We didn’t do anything wrong but were being framed using doctored video. We will not go anywhere now and will be part of the movement against the branding of university as anti-national,” he added.
JNUSU general secretary Rama Naga said that it was Rohith Vemula that brought the Left groups together. “Yes, I was scared. I am the only person from my family to have come to Delhi. My parents too are scared. But we have to take the fight for justice for Rohith to the end. The culprits of Hyderabad and JNU must be brought to book.”
Former JNUSU vice-president Anant Narayan said it was the “mobocracy” that really riled them.