Noam Chomsky, Rajmohan Gandhi call for the release of Umar Khalid


“(The arrested of Khaled) It is however one many that shed a grim light on India’s system of justice during a period of repression and often violence that has been visibly undermining free institutions and the free practice of the rights of citizenship, part of the large-scale governmental effort to dismantle honorable tradition of secular democracy and to impose a Hindu ethnocracy,” Noam Chomsky, legendary linguist said in a video-statement along with Rajmohan Gandhi, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, Saturday, July 2 at Illinois.

Khalid was arrested by Delhi Police 14 September 2020, months after the Delhi riots of February, under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and has been behind bars since, accused of planning and instigating the riots in North-East Delhi with a councilor from the Aam Aadmi Party, Tahir Hussain.

Chomsky’s picking up the bat in favor of the incarcerated Khalid happens at a time when the Indian Supreme Court’s Chief Justice has on American soil been talking about an independent judiciary functioning in India.

“We are here today to support Umar Khalid, a student activist who spoke up against the discriminatory citizenship laws CAA/NRC. He was charged with terrorism and instigation of riots,” Chomsky said. “The only credible evidence that has been presented is that he was exercising the constitutional right to speak and to protest, a fundamental prerogative citizenship in a free society.”

Khalid was charged with sedition and arrested in February 2016 too, for allegedly raising anti-India slogans inside the JNU campus along with the former student union president and present Congress leader Kanhaiya Kumar and others.

Chomsky said Khalid has been held without bail for over a year despite the apparent insignificance of the charges framed against him and he was behind bars under court-ordered restraints for a long-duration of trial,” Chomsky observed.

Chomsky clarified that the geographical distance made it difficult for him to evaluate the events and charges.

“The secular democracy created in India in its recovery from brutal and destructive British rule has been praised as one of the great achievements of the modern age, The recent regression is therefore deeply saddening,” Chomsky said.

“We can all only hope that the courageous defense of freedom of justice on the part of many young activists will succeed in reversing this tragic course and pave the way for India’s return to leadership in the search for a better world, one that honors peace and justice, drawing from India’s rich and impressive tradition,” he added.

Gandhi, a Research Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said in Umar India possesses one of its finest mins, reinforced by a sensitive conscience, and by a will committed to assisting the neediest, who has been kept silent with his incarceration for 20 continuous months. .

“People in detention do not receive a speedy, fair and public trial supply eloquent evidence of the shortcomings in their country’s democracy,” Gandhi said. “Among the thousands thus detained or constrained in India is Umar Khalid, a highly gifted scholar, who produced a dissertation on the lives, struggles and hopes of the Ho tribal community in Jharkhand. This contribution to scholarship, to the goal of human progress, reveal Khalid’s potential.’

“In these 20 months, Umar has not received, the fair  and public trial to which every human being like him is entitled under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, to which India is a signatory.  Umar’s continuing silence is a blotch on India’s image and a hurdle to India’s progress,” Gandhi said.

Gandhi added, India is at the center of the struggle between supremacy and equality, autocracy and democracy and coercion and human dignity, raging all across the globe.

“Every additional day of detention for Umar and the others wrongfully detained, who number in the thousands, is a fresh blow against democracy in the world, against human dignity and against India’s good name,” Gandhi said. “Let Umar breathe the air of freedom. Let his have the right to contribute to India’s true mission, which is to expand dignity, liberty, equality and harmony- within her borders and in the world,” Gandhi said. “And let the rest of us never stop thinking and working for the liberty of Umar and of others like him whose sole offences is to ask for the rights of liberty and equality assured by the Indian Constitution and by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”