JNU student’s father: If you’re branding him a traitor for my (SIMI) past…

'I left SIMI in 1985, before my son Umar Khalid was born, and when there was not a single case against any individual in SIMI or the organisation,' told Syed Qasim Rasool Ilyas.

Written by Pritha Chatterjee | New Delhi | Updated: February 19, 2016 3:02 pm
JNU, JNU Umar Khalid, JNU Umar Khalid father, JNU student father in SIMI, JNU SIMI, umar khalid, kanhaiya kumar, JNU row, JNU protest, afzal guru, Syed Qasim Rasool Ilyas, indian express JNU row: Syed Qasim Rasool Ilyas, father of JNU student.

Of the JNU students who organised the February 9 event leading to Kanhaiya Kumar’s arrest, one is the son of a politician who used to be in the SIMI before he left three decades earlier, long before the outfit was banned. As the police look for the son, the father asks if it is because of his past that his son is being “branded a traitor”.

“I left SIMI in 1985, before my son Umar Khalid was born, and when there was not a single case against any individual in SIMI or the organisation. SIMI was banned in 2001,” Syed Qasim Rasool Ilyas told The Indian Express.

Watch | JNU Row: What Delhi Police’s Failure To Ensure Order At The Patiala House Court Tells Us

Ilyas is now the national president of Welfare Party of India, which operates out of Abul Fazl Enclave in southeast Delhi.

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“If you are branding my communist son a traitor because of my past, and holding him to trial in TV studios, it is worse than targeting… He is being punished in media studios for having a Muslim name,” Ilyas said. “None less than the home minister of this country has attributed this branding to Umar..all because of his name. Can there be any bigger branding of him?” Ilyas questions.

Umar ran into frequent arguments with his family about what he called “ritualistic” practices of Islam. “He hated going by the book… He was questioning everything which led to frequent arguments, even my differences with him. Whether it was praying, fasting, or women in the family covering their heads, he was the only non-believer in our family which angered me, but he is a young man,” Ilyas said.

Watch Video: JNU Students March For JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar’s Release

Family friends describe Umar as a “pakka communist”, a “leftist”, “an atheist”, whose every social media post began with “Comrades”. One of the sisters recently put up a social media post of how he rebuked her when she asked him to take Calcium tablets after his tooth fell off recently, saying “people in the country did not get enough to eat.”

Although Umar Khalid has not been named as an accused, police are looking for him as one of the organisers of the “anti-national” event. Ilyas said he last spoke to his son after a TV interview last week and that Umar told him he was going to JNU.

Asked why he thought his son was being “branded”, Ilyas said, “There were ten organisers in that event. If you look at the posters, Umar’s name was in seventh place. Yet he has become the main conspirator and the most dire threat to the nation, if you believe the media today. My family was scared that I am giving interviews… they are worried that after him I will be branded next. But we have to speak.”

The family lives in an apartment in a bylane of crowded Jamia Nagar. Umar went to Banyan Tree School in south Delhi, graduated from Kirori Mal College in history in 2009, and then did his MA, M Phil from JNU. He is now pursuing his PhD on the condition of tribals in Jharkhand.

Ilyas is a PhD in Chemistry. One of Umar’s sisters is a teaching assistant in Massachusetts University in comparative literature, another sister studied in St Stephen’s College. The youngest sister is 11.

Ilyas said a Yale University professor whom Umar had corresponded with during his PhD had last year offered him a semester there, impressed with his research. He said the sister in the US, in particular, was keen that Umar go to Yale, but he refused.

“All of our family have passports, even my youngest daughter. But Umar never got a passport, he has never sat in an aircraft. Today they say he went to Pakistan and had links with JEM and Hafiz Saeed,” Ilyas said.

Ilyas said all the “regular stereotypes” have been associated with his son. “Ask anyone who knows him how much of a believer he is,” Ilyas said. “All his time was spent in Jantar Mantar, whether it was over Rohith Vemula, Occupy UGC, tribals or Dalits. He fought with me saying my views on Islam and otherwise were based on philosophy, that I never went out among the people enough.”

Ilyas said he had frequent arguments with his son over his “abject denouncement of the family’s religious beliefs”. Today, he said, his entire family was being branded “as a result of a media trial”. “It has been hard, worrying about Umar and going through this. We are educated people who have engaged in social work through our lives as much as we could. We never went after corporate jobs. My ideologies may be different from my son’s but I never did that and neither did he. And look where we are now, what is being said of us,” Ilyas said.

Asked if he felt the student and teaching community of JNU supported Umar through their movement, Ilyas said he felt satisfied only after Thursday’s massive student protest where “slogans were also raised for my son”.
“There were deliberate efforts from some Left parties who were eager to show Kanhaiya was not involved and tried to establish blame somewhere. My view is all children should be treated equally. It is the duty of the university administration to ensure this,” he said.

He said he heard Thursday that the “entire student community came together”. One of Umar’s sisters posted on Facebook ahead of the protest: “I am with Kanhaiya. Are you with Umar?”

Asked if he stood by his son’s purported views on Kashmir, Ilyas said he rejected the slogans “played out on TV channels”. “I am not saying Umar has not done any wrong. Who am I to say that? All I am saying is that there should be an investigation and let the courts decide. Justice should not be delivered in TV studios,” he said.

Asked why his son was not turning up before the police, he said he would like him to do so. “I don’t know where he is. I am worried as a father. Our whole family is worried for him, I want him to go through the legal system,” he said.

Yet he worried. “Even if the courts of this country pronounce my son innocent, will he ever be able to have a normal future? His face is being played out across channels with words like mastermind and traitor… His siblings are getting vitriolic messages on social media,” Ilyas said.

“I worry about his future.”

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First Published on: February 19, 2016 2:55 am
  1. A
    Akshay Joshi
    Feb 19, 2016 at 8:31 am
    terrorist is written over the face of your son. and everyone can see it now
    1. I
      Feb 19, 2016 at 4:31 am
      "I am not saying Umar has not done any wrong" Enough said
      1. A
        Feb 19, 2016 at 5:05 am
        Trying to gain some Sympathy !! same Like batla House and Afzal
        1. A
          Feb 18, 2016 at 11:07 pm
          Indian coward agents are capable of doing that.
          1. B
            Feb 19, 2016 at 2:26 am
            70 % indian students must have bangles into their hands or go round up these all rss pests and terminate them asap before it becomes cancer for nation
            1. K
              Kanu Patel
              Feb 19, 2016 at 9:29 am
              If he is worried about the media trial of his son ,why does he not bring him to Delhi Police to go through a real trial in the court of law ?
              1. मनीष
                Feb 19, 2016 at 2:31 am
                Muslims always play victim card when in minority. This story clearly shows that.
                1. P
                  Feb 19, 2016 at 12:31 am
                  Please stop playing victim because you are a Muslim in India. East of Turkey, India is the only country where Muslims are truly respected as Indians. If you have any doubts please visit stan,Iran or Saudi Arabia. Shia's kill Sunni's and Sunni's kill Shia's . You are safest India and mostly like to die a natural death and not blown up with bomb.
                  1. M
                    Feb 19, 2016 at 3:55 am
                    India is the junkyard of the politics of the world thanks to Congress who love so much to fish in troubled waters. Perfect environment for fishing. Lefties in due course also learned the ropes!
                    1. M
                      Feb 19, 2016 at 3:53 am
                      What's the problem surrendering and answering any questions police might have, specially, if he is innocent?
                      1. M
                        Feb 19, 2016 at 3:59 am
                        Why most off the "student politicians" end up doing M. phill, Ph.D in JNU? Become a Nehruvian Pandit?
                        1. A
                          Feb 19, 2016 at 7:29 am
                          ab bete par baat aayi to ... muslim card khel diya waahhh yr... tum jaison mullon ki wajah se hi ye sab ho raha hai...pakdo atankwaadi ko or maaro
                          1. S
                            Sidharth Sankar
                            Feb 19, 2016 at 2:26 am
                            You are a traitor; your son is a traitor. Why don't you move, with your family, to Syria?
                            1. V
                              Feb 19, 2016 at 4:23 am
                              I am curious how much money IE is getting from Hafeez Syeed. This paper has become a pro Jihadi mouth piece
                              1. A
                                Feb 19, 2016 at 9:00 pm
                                lol..if you are an anti-indian, you really don't need a pport to go to stan. Just make yourself known and you will soon find sleeper cells contacting you and will find a way to send you to stan for training. Being a former SIMI member you know this better.
                                1. A
                                  ak dev
                                  Feb 19, 2016 at 7:20 am
                                  If Khalid is innocent, let him say so in court. Why is he absconding? If Khalid is a pakka communist, he must be closely ociated with Kanahia. Khalid's strong left profile be the reason, communists have made him underground.
                                  1. Q
                                    Feb 19, 2016 at 6:19 pm
                                    All worst terrorist are phd,engineer etc etc. "Islam is philosophy which have not gone well"? This shows how much leftist Your son was ? can draw Muhammad ? Do you remember Iran revolution all revolutionary were Leftist , now where it is?
                                    1. A
                                      Feb 19, 2016 at 6:12 am
                                      To those who are buying the argument of this article: how come name of his father surfaced or for that matter even umar khalid's name came? Was he so por before JNU incidence?he was accused Not just for leftist ideology..Had this been you will find people vocal to this ideology in every part of nation..What happened at JNU has been seen by everyone. Now creating a propaa of victim hood is not right on part of media. let the administration file the case and allow it to argue in court.
                                      1. A
                                        Feb 19, 2016 at 9:50 am
                                        kanaiya kumar seems to be a christian convert hiding behind his hindu name.....
                                        1. A
                                          Feb 19, 2016 at 9:45 am
                                          wow....must be a true communist....coz don't get to see atheist from any another community other than hindu.......
                                          1. A
                                            Feb 19, 2016 at 6:00 am
                                            The leftists are a confused lot or are trying to confuse other people. You cannot go against all the words in Quran and then support azadi for kashmir which wants a seperate ideny based on islam and where they have driven out the non muslims. Umar Khalid has raised slogans favouring such an azad kashmir and not for equality of anything. You cannot equat Dalit rights with azad kashmir and anti other caste people if you so truly believe inequality.
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