Khalid, a Ph.D scholar and activist who had been speaking out against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), was called in for questioning on September 13, 2020, by the Special Cell, Delhi Police, and arrested in connection with the Northeast Delhi riots. He was later charged under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
Addressing a public meeting, speakers like former Planning Commission member and women’s rights activist Syeda Hameed, Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan, member of the Parliament Manoj Jha and journalist Siddharth Vardarajan alleged that “dubious evidence was being used to rob bright young people like Khalid and many others of their freedom”.
“His only fault was to uphold the Constitution and oppose CAA, NPR, NRC. He saluted the women of Shaheen Bagh in Amaravati and called for upholding Gandhiji’s ideals.
“He saluted the women who came out on the streets when students of Jamia were brutally repressed and stayed outside for 101 days. The regime was scared of this courage. For them an educated Muslim is an eyesore,” Hameed alleged.
Questioning the charge sheet against Khalid, Vardarajan alleged the government was looking at “criminalising anti-CAA protestors to cover up the perpetrators of the Delhi riots”.
Speaking in the same vein, Bhushan alleged, “This is not an investigation of a conspiracy, it’s rather a conspiracy to frame innocents and cover-up real perpetrators.”
“It is necessary that the police who investigated the matter should be held accountable,” the senior Supreme Court lawyer said.
Bhushan said it was important that the SC-ordered police reforms in 2006 that said the police forces enforcing law and order should be different from those conducting investigations are implemented.
“In these difficult times you will not find heroes in films, but behind bars for speaking up against the government,” RJD MP Manoj Jha said.
“The government,” he alleged, “could not deal with Shaheen Bagh, hence it resorted to demonising it.”
Other speakers included former chairperson of Delhi Minorities Commission Zafarul Islam Khan, senior journalist Bharat Bhushan and farmer leader Jasbeer Kaur.