Naveen Dalal, one of the two men accused of attacking activist and former JNU students’ union leader Umar Khalid last year, is back in a new avatar — as the Shiv Sena’s candidate from Bahadurgarh for the Haryana Assembly polls on October 21.
A self-proclaimed gau rakshak, Dalal said he joined the Sena six months ago because their ideologies on “nationalism and cow protection” matched. “We are fighting the same battle — for nationalism, cow protection and recognition for our freedom fighters,” Dalal, 29, told The Indian Express. “BJP and Congress governments don’t have anything to do with farmers, martyrs, cows or the poor. They are just interested in politics.”
Confirming that Dalal is the party’s candidate, Vikram Yadav, Shiv Sena’s Haryana (south) chief, said: “He has been fighting for issues like cow protection and speaking up against those who raise anti-national slogans. Hence, we have chosen him.” Read in Malayalam
In August 2018, Dalal and the other accused, Darwesh Shahpur, were allegedly involved in a failed attempt to shoot Khalid outside the Constitution Club in New Delhi — Khalid escaped unhurt after the gun jammed. Dalal and Shahpur escaped but were later arrested after they released a video in which they said the attack was an “Independence Day gift for the nation”.
#BREAKING: @IPSMadhurVerma has confirmed they have found #CCTV #footage of the man accused of attacking #UmarKhalid outside the #ConstitutionClub.
Image of the #assailant. @IndianExpress pic.twitter.com/c4gPAazF0u
— Mahender Singh (@mahendermanral) August 13, 2018
Dalal is currently out on bail in the case and the matter is pending before a sessions court.
Asked about the attack, Dalal said he did not want to talk about it “at the moment”. “It isn’t only about Umar Khalid. There is a lot more to it. I will speak about it some day,” he said.
Shiv Sena’s Yadav defended Dalal, saying it was his way of “showing patriotism”. “He didn’t have a personal issue (with Khalid). He was upset that these people had chanted anti-India slogans in a university in the capital. He was also upset that there was no action taken against them. So from Naveen’s perspective, it was a way to show his patriotism,” Yadav said.
In his election affidavit, Dalal has stated that there are three criminal cases pending against him, including the Delhi Police Special Cell’s FIR in relation to the attack on Khalid.
The two other cases listed are from 2014: an FIR in Bahadurgarh under sections 147/149 of the IPC (rioting), and another with Delhi’s Parliament Street police station under multiple sections for marching into the BJP head office with a severed cow’s head.
For the election, Dalal’s campaign posters promise “change” and bear the prefix “gau rakshak” before his name. Hailing from Mandothi, a village known for its passion for wrestling, Dalal said he too grew up dreaming to win laurels on the mat.
“I took part in mitti dangals as well as mat wrestling, and competed at the state level in the 60kg weight class,” he said. In 2010, he said, his career ended prematurely after an injury.
According to Dalal, he turned to his “second-biggest” obsession — the military. “I tried multiple times and even went for trials in Pune and Ahmednagar. I passed physical tests but failed in the written exams. But still, I wanted to do something for the country. So I started cow protection.”