Umar Khalid was arrested under stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act during the northeast Delhi riots in February this year, now more than 200 educationists, filmmakers and authors, including Noam Chomsky and Mira Nair, issued a joint statement demanding the Centre to free Umar Khalid.
Besides Chomsky and Nair, the signatories include actor Ratna Pathak Shah, authors Amitav Ghosh, Salman Rushdie and Arundhati Roy, and journalist P Sainath.
The statement stated, “We call on the Government of India to free Umar Khalid and all those falsely implicated and unjustly incarcerated for protesting against the CAA-NRC that denies equal citizenship rights and to ensure that the Delhi Police investigates the Delhi riots with impartiality under the oath they took as public servants bound by the Constitution of India,”
“We stand in solidarity and outrage, with the brave young scholar and activist Umar Khalid, arrested in New Delhi on September 14, 2020, under fabricated charges of engineering the Delhi riots in February 2020,” it read.
The statement said that Khalid “used the passion of his commitment to his country, marshalled his education and his voice to join the movement for equal citizenship, against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA)” which introduced religion as a criterion for citizenship, and has no place in a secular nation.
The Delhi Police had on September 13 said it is investigating the role of all individuals who took part in the February riots and were behind the larger conspiracy of organizing violence and inciting communal passion amongst communities.
Delhi Police Commissioner S N Shrivastava had last week said that the force has collected documentary evidence, including scientific evidence, to support its case in connection with the riots.
He mentioned that the police have so far arrested 1,571 people irrespective of their caste or religion and they are almost equally distributed among both communities.