13, Aug 2018 | Sushmita
Firebrand student leader Umar Khalid was shot at by an ‘unidentified gunman’ in New Delhi on August 13. The blatant attack, that many see as a scare tactic, ironically took place when JNU scholar was attending a program titled Khauf se Azaadi (Towards a Freedom Without Fear) at the Constitution Club.
The program was organised by a group called United Against Hate to highlight the increasing number of attacks on minorities, students and rationalists.
“There is an atmosphere of fear in the country, and anybody who speaks against the government is threatened,” said Umar with his characteristic calm, less than an hour after being shot at.
CJP condemns this despicable and cowardly attempt to silence a young voice of dissent. We stand with Umar Khalid, a fearless young man who should inspire every young Indian to speak up against injustice and defend our right to free speech. To support CJP’s initiatives to protect Freedom of Expression, become a member.
Umar had stepped out of the club premises to have a quick cup of tea, when the shooter fired at him. Luckily Umar Khalid escaped unhurt. An eyewitness said that they were at a tea stall when a man in a white shirt came, pushed and opened fire at him. “Khalid lost his balance, fell down and the bullet missed him. We tried to catch the man but he fled. He fires aerial shots and the pistol slipped out of his hands,” they added.
The program was to see important speakers such as Adv. Prashant Bhushan, Senior journalist, Arfa Khanum Sherwani, member of Parliament Manoj Jha, Najeeb’s mother, Fatima Nafees, Dalit leader and slain scholar Rohith Vemula’s mother Radhika Vemula among others.
A crackdown on dissent by students coupled with the attack on Khalid has outraged the student community that has already borne the brunt of police brutality whenever they have demanded their rights. Fellow student activist, Shehla Rashid expressed shock and worry, “Shocking and highly condemnable. I spoke to Umar. He’s okay, but we should be very very worried about his safety.”
Meanwhile, MLA Jignesh Mevani who is seen as a friend and supporter of Umar Khalid, tweeted this:
However, right wing trolls and bhakts didn’t shy away even at this grim moment from trying to justify the attack. Sample this tweet by Geetika Swami
What is also interesting is that shots were fired in one of the capital city’s most secure areas, given the club’s proximity to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) building.
*Featur Image by Amir Rizvi