Published: 26th September 2020
Umar is healthy, cheerful, tweets father. Activists including Noam Chomsky, Mira Nair seek his release
Besides Chomsky and Nair, the signatories include actor Ratna Pathak Shah, authors Amitav Ghosh, Salman Rushdie and Arundhati Roy, and journalist P Sainath
More than 200 educationists, filmmakers and authors, including Noam Chomsky and Mira Nair, issued a joint statement on Wednesday demanding the Centre free Umar Khalid arrested in connection with the northeast Delhi riots. Besides Chomsky and Nair, the signatories include actor Ratna Pathak Shah, authors Amitav Ghosh, Salman Rushdie and Arundhati Roy, and journalist P Sainath.
“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,” the statement read.
Umar has been arrested under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in a case related to the communal violence in northeast Delhi in February this year. Umar is in judicial custody until September 22.
“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,” the statement said. The statement said that Umar “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.
At the same time, Umar's father Dr SQR Ilyas tweeted that him, along with his wife and youngest daughter Sarah met Umar at the special cell for around 40 minutes, on Thursday. "Umar was cheerful, healthy and comfortable. He conveyed his regards and greetings to all his well-wishers and supporters," he tweeted. He added that Umar did not sign any papers while in custody and had requested to take a book that he was reading. Umar has apparently read three books while in custody.
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 organising violence and inciting communal passion amongst communities.