Families of Umar Khalid, other jailed anti-CAA activists hold virtual meet to honour them

By  Usama Hazari / Siasat

Hyderabad: Jailed anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) activist Khalid Saifi has been tortured, beaten, and even urinated on, alleged his wife Nargis Safi on Thursday. Nargis, while narrating his ordeal in prison, said that her husband also bore communal slurs, but that he was still smiling when she saw him during a hearing.

“They tried to break Khalid to set an example, even the judge acknowledged that he was framed. Even our kids consider Khalid as a hero – a live Bhagat Singh who is walking on the tradition of Prophet Yousuf, who was also imprisoned,” Nargis said. She was addressing people through a virtual meeting held by family members of political prisoners like Khalid Saifi, Sharjeel Imam, Umar Khalid and others, on Saturday.

They spoke to audiences from around the country and media about their experience of fighting for justice and how they are coping up without their loved ones during the month of Ramzan. The interaction titled “Sab Yaad rakha jayega” (everything will be remembered) was organised by the Student Islamic Organisation (SIO) to honour the political prisoners, most of whom are spending their second Ramzan in jail this year.

Activist and former Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student Umar Khalid’s father was the first speaker. Addressing the meeting, he said, “None of us think of ourselves as victims. When democracy was under threat and fascism was on rise, I’m happy and proud that our sons stood up to the forces of evil.” He added that Umar Khalid always cared for the weaker sections of the society and noted that his son has done a thesis on he tribals of Jharkhand.

Umar Khalid was first arrested in 2016, and was vilified by the media over alleged anti-India slogans raised in JNU. However, he is currently facing charges under the UAPA Act, sedition and for also allegedly inciting violence during the Delhi riots that took place last year in February. Though Umar Khalid got bail in one of the cases due to lack of evidence, he has however been kept in jail as he is facing other charges as well.

Activist Sharjeel Imam’s brother, Muzammil Imam, also addressed the meeting and said that there are thousands of innocent people who are in jails . “Sharjeel, Umar, Khalid Saifi etc are lucky because they got highlighted by the anti-CAA protests,” stated Muzammil, and added that when he was talking to Sharjeel on the phone, his brother pointed out how there are many innocent people who have no one to look after.

Muzammil also quoted from Sharjeel Imam that he was targeted so that “no Muslim would ever unapologetically raise his voice again against injustice.” Imam, an IIT graduate and research scholar at JNU, was arrested on charges of sedition and UAPA after his speech in Aligarh Muslim University in 2020.

Another jailed activist Asif Taha Iqbal’s mother, Jahan Ara, also addressed the meeting.

Jahan Ara said that even though sometimes she is sad that her son is not with her, she and her husband are proud of him. According to his family, Asif, a student of Jamia Millia Islamia university, wrote his exams from jail.

Also joining the virtual meet was jailed Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan’s wife, Rihana, who said that her husband was tortured and harassed by the police. Siddique Kappan was arrested on his way to covering the Hathras rape as a journalist in UP.

“He was asked by UP police if he used to eat beef. He said yes and was beaten up. Our family was not informed of his arrest, and we saw it from the news,” Rihana recalled about his arrest. She added that her husband is also sick and that he has also tested positive for COVID-19 while in jail.

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