The Seed of Anti-nationalism: Less-known Facts about Umar Khalid

Former JNU student leader Umar Khalid was arrested by Delhi police late night on September 13 for his alleged role in the north-east Delhi riots. Khalid, who was charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). Here are some interesting facts about the controversial leader who often sparked major violences through his speech.

  • He was born in a very religious family but he never took any interest in religion. His sister said, “He has always been a Marxist. He never believed in the Allah. Despite our family being very religious, he chose to be a non-believer, because he also questioned God.”
  • He was also invited to study in Yale University for a semester but he rejected and stayed in India. His father said that he rejected the offer as he wanted to work for the minorities in his country.
  • On 9 February 2016, a protest was held by the students of JNU on their campus against the capital punishment given to the Kashmiri Separatist Maqbool Bhat and 2001 Indian Parliament Attack convict Afzal Guru. Umar was alleged to be shouting anti-national statements and was arrested four days later along with the JNU Students’ Union President Kanhaiya Kumar.
  • After the arrests, BJP was criticised heavily in the pretext of attempting to silence political dissent. A number of students from the University came in support of him and classes at the University were stopped for several days.
  • In 2016, JNU panel recommended rustication of Khalid and a fine on Kanhaiya. The students moved to Delhi High Court which directed the university to place the matter before an appellate authority to review the panel’s decision.
  • After many media houses claimed him a terrorist, his father in his clarification said, “My son and Kanhaiya Kumar are the worst victims of the media trial. My son is being called a terrorist and someone who travelled to Pakistan, even though he doesn’t have a passport. He may be anything but he’s not a terrorist.”
  • After he came out of jail, he was greeted by his followers on the campus where he gave a fiery speech in which he compared himself with freedom fighters.
  • After been granted a bail, he was caught in yet another controversy when in July 2016, he compared Burhan Wani with Che Guevara. He in his Facebook post wrote, “I don’t care if I fall as long as someone else picks up my gun and keeps on shooting. These were the words of Che Guevara, but could have just been Burhan Wani’s too.”
  • His father on his ideologies said, “His ideology has become his worst enemy. He is a meritorious student, did his MA and MPhil in such a prestigious institution. The country’s media is slowly turning on him because he is a perfect fit: A Muslim face with views that don’t gel with the State’s opinion on things.”
  • In July 2018, the JNU’s high-level inquiry committee upheld the decision of his expulsion in connection with the 9 February 2016 incident. He was pursuing PhD in Historical Studies.
  • On 13 August 2018, Umar narrowly escaped when a man tried to shoot him from point-blank range at the Constitution Club of India. The assailant dropped the weapon and ran away on foot.

Information courtesy: Stars Unfolded