With police on the lookout for Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student Umar Khalid, one of the organisers of the February 9 event at JNU where “anti-nationals” slogans were allegedly raised, his 12-year-old sister has been unable to go to school since the controversy broke out.
With her term-end exams underway, her parents are worried as she has not taken a single exam and might have to repeat a year as a result.
“My parents are going to talk to the school authorities,” said another of Umar’s sisters.
The family says leaving their Jamia Nagar home has become tough for them, given the threats they have received over the past week.
“She is only 12. She does not fully comprehend what is happening and yet has to face messages of hate and violence,” said Umar’s eldest sister.
As protests broke out and media coverage around the incident escalated, Umar’s father has filed a police complaint over a “death threat from a gangster”.
“We have heard that in some areas, posters have been put up identifying him as a terrorist and a deshdrohi… I am worried that in all this hysteria it is becoming impossible for Umar to ever return to a life of normalcy,” said Dr Syed Qasim Rasool Ilyas, Umar’s father.
Another of his sisters said, “We have received all sorts of threats… all kinds of terrible comments made. We are trying our best to stay calm through all this.”
Asked if she feels Umar has been singled out, one of the sisters, in an email response, said, “I do think Umar and Kanhaiya have been singled out by the media and brandished as traitors and terrorists. This is a very convenient narrative in which a Muslim name is easily identified with radicalism. I also think that we have to fight collectively to have sedition charges dropped against all students.”
Sister addresses Columbia students
One of Umar’s sisters addressed students at Columbia University Saturday on the threats she and her family have been receiving in Delhi.
She spoke about the skewed media coverage which had led to various elements targeting her family while referring to a television interview of her father where his views were misinterpreted by the anchor.
“I have been watching only certain channels from here to retain my own sanity as far as possible,” she said.