New Delhi: Giving a glimpse of what hundreds of Muslims implicated in false cases in the name of fighting terrorism would have gone through, Umar Khalid, the JNU Student Union leader who was booked under sedition, said after spending two weeks with Delhi police he came out with a feeling that not just him but the entire Muslim community was guilty of sedition.
Reiterating that during his more than seven years stay in JNU he never projected himself as a Muslim but even then he was treated as an "Islamic terrorist" merely by virtue of his faith.
"One thing came to my mind repeatedly while in custody that this trial is not of an individual. Not even of JNU. But it is of the entire Muslim community", he said, amid the cries of 'shame.. shame', while addressing the JNU students first time after he got bail in the sedition case.
"This was how they were talking to me and this was how things were framed", he added.
He said the trial reminded him the so many cases where innocents were framed and put behind the bar.
"Giving examples of like former president APJ Kalam and some others they used to say they were patriotic Muslims and asked me to prove my patriotism", he said.
"In attempt to answer these questions... I projected myself as a "non-practicing" Muslim. It was actually helping the case. But some questions kept me haunting for days...
"What if I was a practicing Muslim? What if I came from Azamgarh, educated from a Madrasa, wore a skull cap and had a long beard? Would all these things be enough to give me a terrorist certificate", he asked.
Invoking a novel, he said he felt like a "reluctant fundamentalist" who wanted to have a long beard and skull cap and would say even then no one can ask such questions to him.
Emphasising that he and his freinds did not do anything wrong, he said they were treated like anti-nationals merely because they 'think' and raise questions.
Exposing the communal bias of his interrogators, Umar Khalid said for them he was a traitor to the nation by virtue of his birth and his faith, and lured Anirban Bhattacharya to plead that Umar Khalid 'influenced' him.
In his more than 35 electrifying speech, Umar Khalid also took pot shots at the press, saying media was not acting independently. He said the media is actually working on the instructions of 'someone' in high office and publish and telecast cooked up and malafide stories to create opinion.
He also said he has no regrets of being jailed and was rather proud of being booked under the said charges.
“We have no regrets of being jailed in this particular case. We are in fact proud of the fact that we have been booked under sedition, a law under which activists like Arundhati Roy and Binayak Sen were booked. Our names have been added to the list of those who have been jailed for raising their voices,” he told a gathering at the varsity.
Khalid, who was welcomed at the gathering by JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar and his 6-year-old sister Sara, said, “Those who are raising concerns about wastage of taxpayers’ money, we want to tell them we are not going to go back to studies now that we are back from jail. By jailing us, you have given bigger responsibilities on our shoulders and we will fulfill that by fighting.”
Umar, and Anirban Bhattacharya, arrested in February on charges of sedition for their involvement in a controversial event organised to protest hanging of Afzal Guru, were Friday granted interim bail for six months by a Delhi court on ground of parity with Kumar.
Kumar, who was also arrested on charges of sedition in connection with the February 9 event at the JNU, was granted bail earlier this month.