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Rediff.com  » News » 'This is the price you pay for speaking out against Modi'

'This is the price you pay for speaking out against Modi'

January 15, 2019 08:37 IST

'This is a political case and the police is being used right from day one.'

Almost three years after the controversy surrounding Jawaharlal Nehru University students, the Delhi police filed a chargesheet on Monday, January 14, under Sections 124A (sedition), 120B (criminal conspiracy) and other sections of the Indian Penal Code against Umar Khalid, Kanhaiya Kumar and several others.

Khalid and others were also accused of shouting anti-India slogans during an event organised on the JNU campus on February 9, 2016, to 'commemorate the hanging of Parliament attack mastermind Afzal Guru'.

The case was registered at the Vasant Kunj (North) police station following complaints by Bharatiya Janata Party MP Maheish Girri and the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the student wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

"In another four months, people will show the rulers of this country that they believe in the Constitution and anti-Constitutional forces who are ruling us will not be allowed to remain in power," Khalid tells Rediff.com's Syed Firdaus Ashraf.

 

Your first reactions on the filing of the chargesheet against you and the others.

I am yet to receive an official intimation from the police.

If this is true then, I would first of all congratulate the Delhi police, the (Narendra Damodardas) Modi government and the (Union) home ministry for finally waking up from their deep sleep three years after filing the first information report, not so coincidentally three months before general elections in our country.

Normally, a chargesheet is filed within three months, that is 90 days. But in this case it has been filed after three years.

It is an attempt to sort of change the narrative from the failure of the Modi government to a false debate on what is national and what is anti-national.

Debate should not be on questions of farmer suicide, questions of black money, or employment which Modi promised before 2014, but on the Hindu-Muslim and national versus anti-national question. This is the effort from their side.

As far as the allegations are made, as I said, I am yet to see the chargesheet and I have yet to receive an official intimation and by what is going on in the media, I reject those allegations if that are the allegations in the chargesheet.

I will contest them legally. I am convinced about my innocence. I have full faith in the court and truth will prevail.

Can you tell us what happened when you were arrested for the first time? What did the police do?

The police interrogated us for six, seven days. They wanted all information from us. We co-operated with them.

Even after our release on bail, they came to us a couple of times and we always co-operated as we had nothing to hide. We were students and not criminals.

We are not guilty and now, we have passed out of JNU.

In this scenario, I am amused by this chargesheet which has come after three years as we co-operated with the entire investigation.

This is a political case and the police is being used here right from day one.

The way the FIR was filed after certain news channels raked up the issue and a certain BJP MP too raked up this issue.

The police is being used for political ends. Let us not forget that the Delhi police comes under the central government. They are using the police to hide their failures.

As far as we are concerned, we have nothing against the Delhi police and we have co-operated with them.

The matter is now in court and we will be proved innocent.

Is it not true that on that particular day, Afzal Guru's 'martyrdom' was being commemorated in JNU and you were a part of that programme?

What is true and what is not true will be proved in court. The matter is sub judice, so I would not be able to comment on the specifics and as I said, I have not yet seen the chargesheet also.

What comes under criminal offence and what does not, all of it the court will decide in the coming days.

You became a hated figure as you were associated with the slogan 'Bharat tere tukde honge'. We saw those videos which now some say were doctored. Did this kind of sloganeering happen at JNU or not?

As far as these slogans are concerned, I categorically deny raising those slogans.

As far as being a hated figure is concerned, I do not think I am a hated figure for the people of this country.

The Bharatiya Janata Party and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh hate me because I speak the truth. They tried to run a hate campaign against me. They tried to mislead the people of the country through their (selected) media houses.

Just to recall one such incident, there was a news anchor, who continues to be a news anchor even now, who back then said I had visited Pakistan twice whereas I don't even have a passport.

The home minister of this country, based on a fake Twitter handle, said the JNU event was held by Lashkar-e-Tayiba chief Hafiz Saeed.

Later on, they came to know it was a parody account. Based on these lies they have tried to propagate hate against me and against JNU in general.

The consequence of their hate campaign was that Kanhaiya Kumar was attacked outside the Patiala court and there was an attempt to kill me outside the Constitution Club in New Delhi last year.

But at the same time we have received enormous solidarity by the people who believe in democracy. We have been invited to many places and people have stood by us.

They realised it was not an attack on me or Kanhaiya Kumar or Anirban (Bhattacharya), but an attack on democracy.

The last four years of the Modi regime has been characterised by repeated attacks on democracy and undermining democracy and destroying universities.

But it has not been one way traffic as people are fighting to defend the Constitution and democracy.

In another four months, people will show the rulers of this country that they believe in the Constitution and anti-Constitutional forces who are ruling us will not be allowed to remain in power.

What has life been like in the three years since this incident?

Life has changed. There are many restrictions and many difficulties now.

And those who are responsible for creating this situation for me, that is all the media houses, including those who tell 'what the nation wants to know', must come out and apologise for having run the hate content.

At the same time, this is the price you pay for speaking out for people's rights under the Modi regime.

Human rights activists are branded as traitors, Naxalites and put in jail.

People are being lynched. People like Gauri Lankesh have been murdered and there were people who were celebrating that murder and the prime minister of India was following that person (on Twitter).

This is the price you pay for speaking out against the Modi regime. Therefore, I say democracy is in danger today.

Kanhaiya Kumar says the truth will come out in court. In a way, are you happy that the case has reached the court because, now, it will be clear what is the truth and what is untrue?

I completely agree with Kanhaiya on this issue. And I am happy this case has come to the court.

I hope the media trial will stop now and the actual trial will commence.

I hope for a speedy trial. Once the trial begins, people will figure out there was nothing in the case.

It was a fraud of a case meant for political ends.

What does the future hold for you? Are you joining politics?

I am already in politics by raising my voice against injustice.

That is very political and as far as fighting elections is concerned, I have not thought about it.

Syed Firdaus Ashraf / Rediff.com