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Umar Khalid was arrested on 13th September. He was arrested for his alleged involvement in a conspiracy to incite the violence that broke out in Northeast Delhi in February 2020. 

Words by Editorial Team

September 17, 2020


Illustration by Aarman Roy

Editor's Note: Umar Khalid was arrested on 13th September. He was arrested after several hours of interrogation by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police for his alleged involvement in a conspiracy to incite the violence that broke out in Northeast Delhi in February 2020. Khalid has been charged under sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, 18 sections of the Indian Penal Code, including charges of murder, rioting and trespassing; two sections of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1984; and two sections of the Arms Act, 1959. This is the English transcript of a video message recorded before his arrest.


If you are watching this video, it means I have been arrested.


I want to send you a message with this video. The Delhi Police, through its investigation into the riots in Delhi, is not arresting the rioters who, openly in broad day-light, caused and incited communal violence. They incited violence in front of the police, they incited violence in front of the TV cameras, we all saw it happen. Let alone an FIR, the Delhi Police has not even called them in for questioning. Instead, those who are critical of the government and its policies, especially those who were protesting the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens, are being trapped in fabricated lawsuits. They have no proof – many students and young activists have already been arrested, and for the last few months they have been trying to arrest me as well.


They keep telecasting false declarations on TV. First, from my 17-minute-long speech they extracted a 20 to 30 seconds clip and made it viral, alleging that this is the conspiracy behind the riots, that I instigated people to come to the streets and protest. When I uploaded the entire 17-minute-long speech, in which I spoke not of riots and violence, but about Gandhi's message of satyagraha and ahimsa, they started broadcasting even more, new, false claims against me on TV and in the media. The police are threatening and forcing people to give false testimonies. Their aim is that everyone who dissents and criticizes the government is put behind bars.


What is my crime? Is it that I claim this country to be as much mine as it is yours? Our Hindustan, our beautiful country – where people who follow different faiths live together, speak various languages, all different kinds of people – all of us are equal before the law and the Constitution. Today, efforts are being made to change this, efforts are being made to divide us. And anyone who speaks against the divisive politics is threatened, intimidated, put behind bars, and silenced. They are trying to scare us, but they are trying to scare you too. They are stifling our voice, they are imprisoning us in jail, but they are also trying to trap you in their lies. They want to frighten you into silence.


I'll end my message with this one appeal: do not get scared. Raise your voice against injustice. Demand that everyone who has been arrested with fabricated charges is released. Keep raising your voice against every injustice. Thank you very much.

Further Reading

Readings For An Anti-Caste Education

The eighth edition of Akademi Mag's Love, Pavemented collates a few anti-caste readings from Dalit and Bahujan activists and leaders.


We Must Call It What It Is: Caste-Based Violence

A nineteen-year-old girl who belonged to a Dalit community was brutally raped and killed by four upper caste men. This is not just a case of rape. It’s a caste atrocity.


‘A silk weaver can only weave silk, he cannot wear it.’

The Tamil film, Kanchivaram, explores the exploitation of weavers in Tamil Nadu through the story of its protagonist Vengadam, who belongs to the traditional silk weaving community, and is set within a period that saw weavers struggling with economic inequality and rapidly rising suicide rates.


Your rainbow doesn't hide your casteism

There are a lot of structural reasons why Guruswamy and Katju get to present themselves as leaders of this movement, and in doing so, tap into exactly the structural violence through which Section 377 has come to be represented.


It Means I Have Been Arrested

Umar Khalid was arrested on 13th September. He was arrested for his alleged involvement in a conspiracy to incite the violence that broke out in Northeast Delhi in February 2020.


Sex Work Under The Colonial Raj: Calcutta

Major designated sex trade zones exist only in Delhi, West Bengal and Maharashtra. There are specific historical reasons behind the rise of both brothels and red-light areas in these cities.


The Women, The System, The Struggle: The Story of ASHA Workers

What do a million women, who connect remote parts of this country to healthcare, do when a system insists on deflating their worth?


What We Get Wrong About Drug Abuse

Drugs and addiction are fundamentally intertwined, and yet the word ‘addiction’ does not appear in the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (1985) of India.


Bans, Boycotts and Borders

India has announced three rounds of app bans in response to skirmishes on its border with China. While China is yet to respond with any economic sanctions, tensions are escalating and it is fair to assume that these are impending.


Felt Delhi was No Longer My City

Ayush Tiwari won praise for his coverage of the violence that broke out in Northeast Delhi in late February, but it was this assignment that altered his relationship with Delhi and its people.


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