As thousands cheered for JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar’s speech on Thursday, one man sat silently in front of his television with damp eyes at his apartment in Jamia Nagar.
“Kanhaiya’s speech reminded me of my son,” said father of Umar Khalid, a student lodged in Tihar Jail in a sedition case.
“I am proud that my son is part of a university where thinking individuals are made. I am so happy that the new generation is so socially conscious. They want to talk about real issues,” said Syed Qasim Rasool Ilyas. He was optimistic about Khalid’s release as he was backed by “such people”.
Khalid was among the three Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) students arrested on charges of sedition. While Kanhaiya is out on bail, students demand the release of Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya.
Ilyas said his family will support Khalid through the trial. “I don’t feel embarrassed about facing anyone. We always had an environment of political awareness in our family but Umar’s ideology was nurtured and developed during his stay in JNU. He became more socially conscious and the university has a huge role to play in that,” he said.
Ilyas also said that after Kumar’s release he hasn’t got a chance to speak with his son, but he is in touch with their lawyer and they will file Khalid’s bail application soon.
The family is not alone in the battle. Since their arrest, there hasn’t been one protest without students shouting, “Comrade Umar and Anirban ko riha karo (release Umar and Anirban)”.
On Friday too, a large poster was put up in the administrative block saying, “Release Umar and Anirban” and “Drop all false charges”.
A PhD student, who did not want to be named, said, “We will continue to fight till our other two fellow students are released and also sedition charges dropped.”
President Kumar, back on the campus on bail, said at a press conference on Friday, “Now that I am here we will hold a council meeting and all the councillors will be called and future course of action will be decided.”