New Delhi: Four international organisations, along with scholars Noam Chomsky and Rajmohan Gandhi, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, have condemned the “incarceration” of former Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student Umar Khalid.
Hindus for Human Rights, Indian American Muslim Council, Dalit Solidarity Forum and India Civil Watch International joined Chomsky and Gandhi, in demanding the immediate release of Khalid, who was arrested on September 13, 2020, and has been in custody since then.
Chomsky, a renowned scholar-activist, and Gandhi, a research professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, issued video statements on Saturday condemning the incarceration of Khalid.
Khalid’s case, Chomsky said in his recorded statement, “is one of many that shed a grim light on India’s system of justice during a period of repression, and often violence, that has been visibly undermining free institutions…as part of the large-scale government effort to dismantle India’s honourable tradition of secular democracy”.
Gandhi highlighted Khalid’s scholarly contributions as a doctoral student at the JNU, stating that “in (Khalid), India possesses one of its finest minds, reinforced by a sensitive conscience…this brilliant young son of India has now been silenced for 20 continuous months”.
He alleged that Khalid’s silencing is a “blotch on India’s image” before the world.
“Every additional day of detention for Umar and for the others wrongfully detained, who number in the thousands, is a fresh blow against democracy in the world, against human dignity and against India’s good name,” Gandhi said.
A court here denied bail to Khalid in March in a case of a larger conspiracy in connection with the February 2020 Delhi riots, saying there were reasonable grounds to believe that the accusations against him were prima facie true.
Khalid has been booked under the anti-terror law, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), and provisions of the Indian Penal Code for allegedly being one of the “masterminds” of the riots, which had left 53 people dead and over 700 injured.