Indian activist awaiting trial and bail, lingers in prison

A renowned university awarded Umar Khalid a doctorate on indigenous people, but he described himself as a “unemployed 32-year-old Indian” during an interview in January 2020. You could argue that I’m an extreme democrat ideologically. Mr. Khalid told VICE Asia, “I believe in democracy, and I believe in democracy that is not limited until your voting. “It must come into practice in everyday life in a way you can voice your issues and concerns with democratic functioning.”

Mr. Khalid rose to prominence in 2016 when he was among five Indian students accused with sedition for planning a demonstration against the 2013 hanging of a Kashmiri man at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), his alma mater in Delhi. After turning himself in to the authorities, he and another student were given bail some months later. The colonial sedition legislation was temporarily suspended by the Supreme Court in 2022, and the government was ordered to stop all trials until the court made a definitive ruling regarding the law’s legitimacy.

Mr. Khalid was detained once more four years later, in September 2020, and charged with being a “key conspirator” in the deadly disturbances in Delhi that claimed 53 lives, the most of them Muslim. Massive demonstrations against a divisive citizenship bill were place for several months before to the riots in the Indian capital in February. The activist has been held prisoner in the city’s maximum security facility ever since. Mr. Khalid, one of the campaigners and students detained for the violence, has refuted the accusations made against him. The 36-year-old claims he just participated in a nonviolent demonstration.

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