To mark one year of student leader Umar Khalid’s arrest in connection with the northeast Delhi riots 2020, a public meeting was held at the Press Club of India in New Delhi on Monday. Several members of civil society, including journalists, activists and parliamentarians, raised questions over the citizens right to oppose the government and its policies under the ruling dispensation.
Talking to The Hindustan Gazette, Umar Khalid’s father Syed Qasim Rasool Ilyas said the situations in which his son was protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), “And the way Khalid talks on these issues and analyses them. We already had an idea this government will investigate against him. His last 4-5 years have already gone in activism.”
“In our country, democracy is slowly going in crisis. Meanwhile, one good thing in democracy is that it has dissent, which is it’s safety wall. But this government wants to breaks this safety wall and once it breaks we think it will get bursted,” Mr. Ilyas said.
“I’m happy that Khalid in this age, when other people are doing PhD and planning their career never thought about it. He even got offers from big universities abroad. While his sister is pursuing PhD in Columbia University, even she insisted him. But he said no ‘I want to fight for humans, for oppressed and tribal people in my country’.”
“You just think” Khalid’s father said, “Even his PhD thesis is also about tribals in Jharkhand. So Umar had decided, he will stay in his country and didn’t even make a passport. He didn’t even try to make one.”
When in 2016, the tudke tudke gang godi media accused that he visited Pakistan and Iran. “I said to media, this man doesn’t even have a passport and you’re accusing he traveled to these countries.”
“Today marks one year, since he is in jail, but even there he has utilised his time by reading almost 60-70 books. Every week our family meets him on video call for 10 minutes and he always says I’m fine you don’t have to worry.”
With today’s program they wanted to communicate that it’s the duty of this civil society to stand up, as one by one our independence is being ripped off. Today Umar is in jail tomorrow someone else will be, so if people won’t raise their voice and don’t come into the field then this fascist government will grow more in power, he said.
Khalid’s father said that he regrets that the so called secular parties were silent even on CAA and even the when innocents got arrested.
On asked about the upcoming polls in Uttar Pradesh, he said, “We are very clear about UP’s elections. Our main aim is to remove the fascist government from power.”
“Secondly, as I’m a political party I even met Akhilesh Yadav and several others to get all the secular parties on one platform. If they don’t come together then the small parties can come together and create a big alliance. And we’ve already come one step ahead in that. UP is our last option, if we remove this government which is from the last five years and has done nothing in the name of development. Also whatever happened in UP during the Covid-19 pandemic we all know that. Therefore, even in such bad situations if this government comes to power then it’s not only the bad luck of state, but the whole country,” he said.
Ilyas said he wants to congratulate all those people arrested and they’re our today’s freedom fighters. The freedom struggle happened before 1947, but today we’re not fighting for freedom from white Britishers but black Britishers, who’ve become black because of their deeds.
“I want to salute those people who are standing in fore front in this struggle. Let it be Umar Khalid, Khalid Saifi, Natasha Nariwal, Devangana Kaliya, Asif Iqbal Tanha, Meeran Haider and all those people whose names are not known. All of these people are our courage and pride,” he noted.
Lastly, he said that he wanted all the youth from this country to stand up and become Umar, Saifi, Natasha, Devangana, etc as this struggle is not just of one or or two persons. It’s the fight of everyone. “We should fight together as we’re not just struggling for ourselves but for the country, the poor farmers and everyone else,” Umar Khalid’s father said.
He suggested to start a movement like ‘Arab Spring’ when a girl on Facebook had uploaded she stands against the tyranny of the government and whoever wanted could come can join her. Later everyone joined her and whole movement was started. He said even we should do that in order to remove the fascist government and restore democracy, human rights.
“When the civil society comes in ground then we can defeat the fascist government. Mostly it’s the public that chooses someone’s and removes them from power. That’s civil society should come on ground and struggle one last time to save country’s democracy, freedom, constitution”, Mr. Ilyas said.