Umar Khalid – Most Wanted Absconder

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(Brig (retd) GB Reddi)

Umar Khalid is the most wanted absconder. Umar Khalid, a PhD student at the School of Social Sciences at JNU, who hails from Maharashtra, is the leader of Democratic Student’s Union (DSU) an extreme Left group active in JNU. Even though he was born in a Muslim family, he identifies himself as an atheist. He also did his MA and M Phil from JNU and has been doing field work in Jharkhand.

Umar Khalid has been identified as one of the key protestors who shouted anti India slogans on the JNU campus.

“Democratic Student’s Union (DSU) is a front organization for Maoists and Kanhaiya Kumar belongs to AISF, the student wing of the Communist Party of India.

The police report submitted to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) states that extreme Left group – the DSU – was behind the protest on February 9. Along with DSU the report also mentions Democratic Student’s Front (DSF) that has been involved in “anti-national activities” in JNU in the past.

The Delhi Police report on the incident suggests that it was DSU members that instigated the crowd. The report says that DSU members, under the leadership of Umar Khalid, convener, DSU bought with them equipment to show a documentary on the history of occupation in Kashmir. “Since JNU administration denied screening of the film, DSU activists started to raise slogans and sing songs supporting Afzal Guru and Maqbool Bhat,” the report says.

In sum, members of the DSU organised the event supported by the DSF and other leftist groups and raised anti-India slogans but the Delhi Police arrested Kanhaiya Kumar, president of JNU students union on February 12, on charges of sedition. And, Umar Khalid along with other members is absconding.

The complicity of the DSU and DSF was on the radar of MHA even during the UPA rule in the past.  The UPA government’s statement in the Parliament is on record. None can deny ignorance of the same including Rahul Ghandy, who had participated in the JNU solidarity event.

Mentioning that the two “hidden groups have been volatile and reactive on various issues,” Delhi Police has listed their antinational activities, including the mourning of Afzal Guru and celebrating the killing of CRPF jawans by Maoists in Dantewada, Chhattisgarh in 2010. “They worshipped Mahisasur in place of Goddess Durga during Navarra festival. They invited Kashmiri separatist leader Geelani for a meeting and asked for beef in the hostel mess,” the police report states.

Scrutiny of Khalid’s mobile number showed that it was used frequently between February 6 and February 9 and the calls were made and received outside Delhi.

Call records of two mobile numbers belonging to Umar Khalid have revealed that over 800 calls were made from his numbers to several places, including Jammu and Kashmir, Bangladesh and Gulf countries between February 3 and 9.

While 38 calls are said to have been made to Jammu and Kashmir, a total of 65 calls were received on Khalid’s numbers from J & K.

Media houses differ with their views on the complicity Umar Khalid in the protests. As per some media houses, Umar Khalid is being made a scapegoat in the entire affair. What they highlight is that the protestors were only shouting Azadi but from poverty, from communal blood-shed, from social disparity, and not for Kashmir from India.

Few media houses have been attempting to justify the protests by highlighting that the trigger to anti India Slogan shouting were triggered by the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, a right-wing all-India students’ organization, demand asking the administration t to withdraw the permission of the meeting as it was “harmful for the campus’ atmosphere”. The administration gave approval fearing clashes.

Thus, the DSU then asked JNUSU (Jawaharlal Nehru Students’ Union) and other leftist student organizations such as the SFI (Students Federation of India), and AISA (All India Students Association) to help them hold their meeting “democratically and peacefully”.

In retrospect, the justification advanced to indulge in anti India sloganeering does not uphold the status of media houses and reflect their blatantly partisan views, which is bad for journalism.

Some other media houses believe that Umar Khalid was the brain behind the entire episode. As per some media reports, Umar is said to be a sympathizer of the Jaish-e-Muhammad. There were also reports that he had visited Pakistan.

The Vice Chancellor, JNU, must come clean and confirm that whether Umar Khalid had applied for permission to hold the Afzal Guru program. When permission was denied, the DSU activists lead by Umar took out the march, which is in the centre of the whole controversy.

Furthermore, the Special Branch of Delhi Police says nine students from DSU and 10 from DSF have been identified as those indulging in anti-national and anti-social activities. The report mentions their names.

Kanhaiya Kumar, Anirban Bhattacharya, Anjali, Anvesha, Awasthi, Bhavna, Komal, Riyaz, Bubina, Umar Khalid and Samar, members of All India Student Association (AISA) and Students Federation of India (SFI)  also participated in the protest.

Now, the JNU administration must act decisively against all those 19 students, irrespective of their communal and caste lineage, identified in indulging in anti-national and anti-social activities. The least they should do is to withdraw their scholarships and throw them out of the hostels, if not rusticate them.

Otherwise, they would be setting a wrong precedent for the students to get away with ‘blue murder’ in posterity.

Furthermore, the administration of JNU must assist the police authorities to apprehend the culprits and not shield them inside their campuses claiming immunity.

Finally, all political parties and their leaders like Rahul Ghandy, Sitaram Yechury, D Raja and others who appeared on the stage to express solidarity with the students must tender an apology to the nation.

Otherwise, their own credibility will be at stake reinforcing the view that “politicians lie” to fool people.

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