Umar Khalid shot to limelight after he was slapped with sedition charges along with nine other students, including then JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar, for allegedly organising an event to protest against the “judicial killing” of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru and Maqbool Bhat at the Jawaharlal Nehru University on February 9, 2016. It is alleged that anti-India slogans were raised at the event.
Khalid, a former member of the Democratic Students Union, reportedly went missing from the campus immediately after Delhi Police arrested Kanhaiya Kumar on charges of ‘criminal conspiracy’ and ‘sedition’ under Sections 124A and 120B of the Indian Penal Code. In the next few days, he appeared on different television channels defending the event and was arrested after he resurfaced in the campus on February 23. However, he was granted bail by a sessions court.
On July 6 this year, JNU’s high-level inquiry committee upheld the expulsion of Khalid and also imposed fine of Rs 10,000 on Kanhaiya Kumar in connection with the campus event. Earlier in 2016, the JNU panel had recommended the expulsion of Khalid and two other students along with the imposition of fine on Kumar.
However, Khalid challenged the order in court, following which Justice Siddharth Mridul, who is hearing the matter, had told JNU not to take any coercive action against Khalid till the next date of hearing — August 16.
“An administration that has been running at the orders of the ruling BJP and the RSS, was at no point of time in a position of impartiality to conduct this enquiry. The court has repeatedly found faults with the enquiry process and has vindicated our apprehensions,” Khalid wrote in a Facebook post after the JNU panel upheld his rustication.
However, a fresh row erupted two weeks back after the Jawaharlal Nehru University administration allegedly refused to accept the PhD submission of Khalid. “This is another level of vendetta. I will definitely not pay the fine… I will contest this further,” claimed Khalid, whose PhD on the Adivasis of Jharkhand has been signed by all authorities except the Chief Proctor and Finance Officer. Khalid is a student of PhD in JNU’s Centre for Historical Studies.
Khalid has been a vocal critic of the BJP government and has lashed out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi on several occasions. Addressing the Yuva Hunkaar Rally at Parliament Street in New Delhi his year, the JNU student leader said, “The myth around Modi is fading. The balloon of Prime Minister Modi has burst. The credit goes to the youth, students, farmers, labourers and minorities who played the role of opposition, which was missing inside the Parliament.”
Khalid had also spoken out on the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh and said the assassins’ bullets would not silence her ideas. “Enraged and shocked by the assassination of Gauri Lankesh who was a vocal critic of Hindutva fascist forces. To me, she was more than just a journalist. She was a strong supporter of the JNU movement,” he said.