As we see students, professors, educationists being arrested in this country amid a raging pandemic, it came as no surprise to some when former JNU student and scholar Umar Khalid was arrested recently by the Special Cell of Delhi Police in connection with the riots that broke out in north-east Delhi in February this year. The police are yet to furnish proof to back the claim; despite what might be expected, it has been pressuring acquaintances to sign revelations to ensnare Khalid.
The authorities, however, are failing to address the disdain discourse and hate speech of BJP pioneers like Anurag Thakur and Kapil Mishra, and have turned their entire focus in its endeavours on capturing dissenting protesters. But why now? Why is the ruling party at the Centre, the BJP focusing on people like Umar Khalid at this crucial and chaotic time? There might be a plethora of reasons.
Why is the BJP doing it now?
There is obviously the requirement for the interruption to disregard COVID-19 numbers, the condition of the economy and the conflict with China in Ladakh. A more extensive objective might be tied in with making a chilling domain to prevent future fights in regards to the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). It merits recollecting that the BJP has not abandoned executing the CAA and the National Register of Citizens – they are both at present on hold inferable from COVID-19. Likewise, we should also note that the protests against the controversial CAA didn’t simply flame out all alone – an entire communal riot had to be planned in February to drive nonconformists off the roads in Delhi and fights were in the long run cancelled in March simply because of the spread of the virus. The BJP is in this way bound to actualize the CAA eventually. This is on the grounds that the disfranchisement of Muslims, which the law conceivably empowers, is integral to BJP’s major election strategy – same as suppressing the African-American vote is significant for Republicans in America.
The Union government probably foresees fights later on and there is no better method to plan for it than to capture and ensnare activists in bogus riot cases now – to ensure they don’t get a chance to mobilise all over again. The technique evidently is to advance fictions about slaughters in Delhi in February and fabricate a story among the greater part of Hindus that enemy of CAA fights are driven by vicious Muslims and radicals.
Several people have come out in support of Khalid, some stating that the investigation by the Delhi Police is botched and specifically targeted at protestors, activists, educators and students.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan raised doubts about the investigation. “Umar Khalid’s arrest by Delhi police after naming Yechury, Yogendra Yadav, Jayati Ghosh & Apoorvanand leaves no doubt at all about the mala fide nature of its investigation into Delhi riots. It’s a conspiracy by the police to frame peaceful activists in the guise of Investigation,” he said in a tweet.
An Indian Youth Congress leader Srivatsa Y.B. said the arrest was targeted. “Kapil Mishra screamed ‘Goli Maaro’ in his hate speech which had a big role to play in the riots Forget arrest or UAPA, there was not even an FIR against him What has Umar Khalid done? BJP govt is purposefully hounding him. Will judiciary uphold liberty?” he tweeted.
Is Khalid’s arrest a conspiracy?
Singling out Khalid and others serves to speak to against CAA dissents as being simply driven by Muslims, instead of recognizing them as the expansive, pan India-wide event that they were, involving individuals from all beliefs and varied locales. When you depict a development as generally Muslim-driven (and including “revolutionary” radicals), it gets simpler to subdue it and keeps others from going along with it.
Author Saba Naqvi also supported Khalid and spoke against the arrest. “When an actor can be treated as an enemy of the people, what chance did#UmarKhalid have, a Left activist and Indian Muslim, outstanding student, against whom a narrative has been constructed by TV channels since 2016,” she said in a tweet.
Student activist Gurmehar Kaur tweeted the statement 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 tricolour.’ –Umar Khalid #FREEUMARKHALID” she said.
In the speech that is being used to frame the JNU student, he says: “we will not answer violence with violence, anger with anger, if they spread hatred we will reply with love, if they use batons, we will fly the tricolor, if they fire bullets, we will hold aloft the Constitution, if they put us in jail, we will sing ‘Sare jahan se acha Hindustan hamara‘ and gladly head to prison – but we will not let you destroy this country.” Those words should be solely remembered as Umar Khalid’s “I have a Constitution” speech since they splendidly outline the sort of challenge that is going on in India now among majority-rule government and dictatorship.
Support pours in for Khalid
“With deep anguish, we have no doubt in saying that this probe is not about the violence in February, but about the peaceful and democratic protests across the country against the unconstitutional Citizenship (Amendment) Act,” read a statement signed by 36 people, including Delhi University professor Apoorvanand and JNU Professor Jayati Ghosh — who has also been named in a supplementary chargesheet filed by the police in relation to a riot case. “The repeated attempts by the Delhi police to implicate him [Khalid] in a number of fictitious cases of conspiracy for the Delhi violence is part of a brazen attempt to try to suppress his voice of dissent,” it added, according to a Hindu report.
Khalid’s capture is no uncertainty part of a more extensive clampdown on dissent in the country. The detainment of a promising researcher and pioneer is additionally about monumental cutoff points on Muslims in open life. It intended to emphasize that they have no spot in India’s open arena and is a chilling reality reiterating that legislative issues in ‘New India’ might be the majority’s whims and fancies. Muslims in India can’t remain where they want, eat what they like, dress how they wish to – and now they can’t talk (with the explanatory power that Khalid can marshal) and meddle with the future of the republic. Before there is the constituent truth of a Congress-mukt Bharat, now there is this need to be a mystic and political truth of a Muslim-mukt Bharat.
The JNU students’ community has also spoken against the arrest. “The JNUSU condemns the continuing witch-hunt and targeting of activists. We reiterate that all these actions are a means to criminalise democratic protests against the CAA, the National Register of Citizens, and the National Population Register, which are divisive, discriminatory and the communal agenda of the BJP-RSS, implemented by the Union government,” read a statement by the varsity’s students’ union, adding that the Delhi Police reports to the Union Home Ministry and “not only has a tactical understanding with the real perpetrators of the riots but has ensured that activists are incarcerated and maligned to shift attention away from the real culprits”.
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