The US-based sister of a JNU student accused of being a terrorist said on Thursday the family was worried for the safety of the 28-year-old in a “climate of mob hysteria” created by a section of the media.
Umar Khalid, a PhD student at JNU, was accused of shouting anti-India slogans during an event on February 9 at the campus against the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.
Umar, a former leader of the ultra-left Democratic Students’ Union (DSU), is absconding after he was named in a complaint filed with police, accusing him of anti-national activities.
“He (Umar) spoke to my father right after being interviewed by Arnab Goswami (on TV). That’s the last we have heard from him. We are very worried for his safety. And the climate of mob hysteria that has been created by media has us really worried about things ever going back to normal,” Fatima told HT through email.
Fatima is a working as a teaching assistant at the University of Massachusetts.
Stating that she was very close to her brother, Fatima said the family was backing him as they believe he was being wrongly framed.
“It is being proved that such slogans were raised by outsiders and not by the organisers of the event,” she said.
Fatima, who is a year younger than Umar, said they studied together and often travelled to Delhi University on the university special bus.
Umar is the eldest of the six siblings and the only son in the family.
Their father, Dr SQR Ilyas, is the editor of his own Urdu magazine Afkar-e-milli and president of the recently-formed Welfare Party of India. Their mother is a doctor.
She said that contrary to reports which suggested that Umar had travelled to Pakistan in the past, he did not even have a passport.
“When I moved to the US in 2012 to pursue my PhD, I wanted him to apply for study abroad as well. But he felt that moving away would mean disengaging with ground realities, that he wouldn’t be able to work for the marginalised and dispossessed people of the country. In fact, I’ve pestered him to get a passport but he kept telling me that he belonged there (India),” said Fatima.
On being questioned whether her family had problem with his Leftist ideology, Fatima said, “Our family is a perfect example, almost a microcosm of Indian democracy. We don’t necessarily agree with each other in terms of ideology, there is a healthy difference of opinion. But we have been supportive of each other and respected each other as mature individuals.”
She also hoped that the JNU authorities will stand up for Umar like the way they are fighting for Kanhaiya Kumar, arrested on charges of sedition.
Watch | Absconding JNU student’s father speaks out against trail by media