The Delhi police moves ahead with the investigation in the Delhi riots. It is being felt that action is being taken against all those who opposed the CAA. Including Umar Khalid, 20 people have been arrested so far out of these 19 are under the age of 31 years. The young voices that rose in dissent are being tagged as conspirators. Is this not the misuse of UAPA?
Young leaders who show disagreement with the government are soon tagged, conspirators. Delhi police have alleged that Umar Khalid was a "key conspirator" in the riots. Khalid is among several prominent activists and student leaders who have been arrested. Human rights groups say that many activists, mostly Muslims, have been unfairly targeted - police deny the allegation. Riots broke out in February between protestors for and against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA ), a controversial citizenship law. An Amnesty International report recently said that Muslims were disproportionately targeted in the riots. Meanwhile, several activists and academics have issued a statement condemning Mr Khalid's arrest.
"With this, we have no doubt to say that this inquiry is not about the violence... Khalid is one of the thousands of voices who spoke in favor of the constitution in anti-CAA demonstrations across the country, particularly keeping in mind the peaceful, non-violent and democratic ways," the letter said.
United Against Hate (UAH), an activist group that Umar Khalid is a member of, said Delhi police must ensure Khalid's safety. The activist was also arrested in 2016 on charges of "sedition", along with another fellow student leader, Kanhaiya Kumar, for allegedly shouting "anti-India" slogans. They both denied the charges and were released on bail. Activists have described the political activist as “one of our bravest young voices who spoke for the constitutional values of our country” and condemned the police action against him as a ‘witch hunt’. Khalid was arrested late night on September 13 and charged with sedition, offenses under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act as well as murder and attempt to murder.
The charges stem from police claims that Khalid and others who were involved in peaceful protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and National Register of Citizens had “conspired” to trigger riots in Delhi so as to embarrass the Modi government in the eyes of the world.
Activists call the action against Umar unconstitutional and malicious. It has been termed as targeting peaceful anti-CAA protestors by the activists. The people who raised their voices against student's arrest call it an attempt of vengeance against anti CAA protesters. Describing Khalid as “one of the hundreds of voices that spoke up in favor of the constitution across the country during these anti-CAA protests, always foregrounding the need for peaceful, non-violent and democratic means”, Out of 20 arrested, 19 are under the age of 31.
Of which 17 have been charged under the draconian UAPA and have been imprisoned on charges of a conspiracy for the Delhi violence whereas those who actually instigated and participated in the violence have not been touched. Of the ones incarcerated, five are women, except for one all are also students.
The group said, “he has emerged as a strong and powerful voice of young Indians in favor of the constitution and of democracy.”