Activism, Politics, Prison: Being Kanhaiya Kumar & Umar Khalid in Modi’s India – By Himanshi Dahiya
India needs Bhagat Singh’s courage, Mahatma Gandhi’s unity, and BR Ambedkar’s quest for equality – this was the gist of Kanhaiya Kumar’s speech when he joined the Congress party on 29 September. But in Kanhaiya’s vision of a ‘courageous’, ‘united’ and ‘pluralistic’ India, one might find it difficult to locate his former JNU friend and ally, Umar Khalid.
Charged under the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), Khalid is currently in jail for his alleged involvement in the 2020 Delhi Riots case. Despite several loopholes emerging time and again in the investigation by Delhi Police and in cases pressed against him, there’s very little hope of Umar Khalid being a free man, anytime soon.
What’s striking is that both Kanhaiya and Umar rose to the national stage after being named in the now (in)famous JNU sedition case. Both were members of Left/Left leaning political outfits in the university and continued to practice a more democratic, Gandhian and Ambedkarite politics after that. But the telling difference in their social and political positions today begs a question – what happened in the last five years that led to this?…