Zainab Fatima took to Twitter to share a childhood picture of her brother Umar Khalid, who has been arrested for his alleged role in the Delhi Riots that occurred in February 2020. Fatima has been resharing messages of solidarity for her brother, using #StandWithUmarKhalid. The activist was arrested late Sunday night from his home in Delhi, after 11 hours of interrogation.

Fatima, who is one of Khalid’s four sisters, posted an old picture of Khalid as a young boy, with the message, “I hope there will soon come a time when we’ll laugh about how worried and tense we were about the false charges and constant vilification on news channels once again. This too shall pass. My dear brother, you give us courage everyday!”

Here is the picture tweeted by her:

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Umar Khalid Arrested

Khalid, one of the most prominent faces among student activists from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), was arrested by the Delhi Police Special Cell late on Sunday night at 11:00 pm, his father Syed Qasim Rasool Ilyas revealed. He was sent to 10-day custody on Monday by a Karkardooma court, charged under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). In their FIR, the police have alleged that Khalid had a hand in the “premeditated conspiracy” behind the violent communal riots that broke out in Northeast Delhi in February 2020, leaving 53 people dead.

The police reportedly told the court that the data retrieved from Umar Khalid’s phone was worth “40 GB” and that he was to be confronted with “11 lakh pages” of data. Khalid’s counsel Trideep Pais opposed the remand and said that Khalid was not even in Delhi between February 23 and 26 when the riots broke out. He maintained that his client “was opposed to the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, and not ashamed of his stand; and that the police were yet to produce evidence that Khalid had incited the protests.”

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Khalid has been charged with “sedition, murder, attempt to murder, promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion and rioting.” Aside from accusing Umar Khalid of delivering “provocative speeches” to promote disharmony, the FIR also mentions how the conspiracy had a “deep-rooted” agenda to defame the country during Donald Trump’s visit with roadblocks and jams.

Students, Activists Condemn Khalid’s Arrest

Numerous social activists, academicians, students, and political leaders have condemned Khalid’s arrest for being a “witch hunt” and an attempt to silence dissenting voices. #StandWithUmarKhalid, #FreeUmarKhalid, and #ScrapUAPA began trending online soon after his arrest. Actors Swara Bhasker and Mohd. Zeeshan Ayyub also voiced their opposition to Khalid’s arrest.

Shehla Rashid, activist alongside Khalid at JNU, wrote, “It’s like 2016 all over again, when @UmarKhalidJNU and others were arrested… The world should be bothered by all this.”

Swaraj India chief Yogendra Yadav, who was also recently named in the “supplementary chargesheet” for an alleged role in the riots, has openly opposed Khalid’s arrest in several interviews. He also wrote on Twitter, “Shocked that an anti-terror law UAPA has been used to arrest a young, thinking, idealist like @UmarKhalidJNU who has always opposed violence and communalism in any form.”

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After his arrest, Khalid’s speech from Amravati, which is reported to have been one of the factors in his arrest, went viral, with several bringing notice to the absence of hate in it. Khalid can be seen saying, “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 will hold the tricolour higher.

BJP leader Kapil Mishra, who was collectively slammed by activists for giving an incendiary speech to anti-CAA protestors in Jaffrabad in the days leading up to the riots, reacted to Khalid’s arrest saying, “I have full faith that criminals like Umar Khalid… will be hanged, imprisoned for life…”

Who Is Umar Khalid?

Dr Umar Khalid is a human rights activist and the former leader of JNU’s Democratic Students’ Union (DSU). He obtained his Masters and M.Phil in History from the University.

The 33-year-old first gained international recognition in 2016 following the JNU sedition row. He was named alongside JNU Student Union President Kanhaiya Kumar for chanting “anti-India” slogans and was arrested on charges of sedition alongside other students. However, they were granted bail when the investigation found that they hadn’t shouted the slogans.

Also Read: Delhi Police arrests Pinjra Tod activists from JNU over anti-CAA protest

During the controversy, his sisters had openly spoken about the threats they, and the entire family were receiving on account of Khalid’s case. Maryam Fatima, Khalid’s eldest sister studying in the USA, had said, “They received threats soon after (rape and acid attack) as responses to their comments and as Facebook messages — including my 12-year-old sister.”

Khalid has been an active dissenter against the Centre’s decision to introduce the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) and was part of several anti-CAA, NRC protests around Delhi regarding the issue.

Image Credit: Twitter

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