The family of JNU Ph.D.
The family of JNU Ph.D. scholar Umar Khalid, who is evading police, said on Friday that the charges against him are shrouded in a lot of “fabrications and lies” and said that the judiciary would decide whether he was involved in the case.
Demanded that Mr Khalid be spared a media trial, they said the episode had “taken away” all sense of normalcy and sanity from their lives. His sister Maryam Fatima, a PhD student in the US, called him a “true son” of India. “Most channels have been conducting media trials based on false information. They first claimed there was an IB report linking Umar to Jaish-e-Muhammad. This was denied by the IB. But the story is still doing the rounds. All of this is adding up to a lynch mob climate,” Ms Fatima told PTI over email.
Mr Khalid, who is working on his PhD on tribal rights and colonial forest policy, has placed his concern for the dispossessed over his own life and career — turning down opportunities to go abroad, she claimed. “The issue of sloganeering is shrouded in a lot of fabrications and lies. Several of the videos were doctored,” she alleged. “It is ridiculous to ask us if we think it (anti-India slogans) is okay — of course, not. But you have to dig deeper and see who was raising them. He is a true son of India,” she said.
Ms Fatima, who is the eldest among five sisters but younger than her brother, claimed that even her 12-year-old sibling has received “violent threats” on social media. “My sisters received threats on Facebook when they first started posting in defence of Umar. They are not going to school or college. There are also the posters in Munirka directly calling for Umar’s death. As you can imagine, we feel very vulnerable right now,” she said.
Their father Syed Qasim Rasool Ilyas said that his son was fighting for the cause of tribals and poor farmers and that he has always stood with them. “If they were seditionist, it should be decided by the court. There should not be a media trial. He was fighting for adivasis and poor farmers. Most of his time was spent in JNU or Jantar Mantar. He used to reach wherever there was crisis,” he said.
Mr Ilyas criticised the arrest of JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar on charges of sedition as well as the “atmosphere that is being created against Khalid and his friends.”
“JNU has been an educational centre where such things have been happened in the past as well,” he said, adding: “The beauty of JNU is that it accommodates (people of different ideologies) and gives a platform to raise their voice.”
On their father’ past links with SIMI, a banned outfit, Ms Fatima said that he left SIMI in 1985, way before it was banned in 2001 and Umar’s birth. “There is no connection here, nothing more to be made of.”