They thought he would be a cricketer. He had played in the Delhi Cricket Academy under-12 team but an ankle injury ended his dreams of playing for the country.
When he became an atheist against family wishes, they accepted him. They accepted him even when he chose to forgo his scholarship for a university abroad and instead join the ranks of the left. But one thing, they will never accept is their son JNU student Umar Khalid being branded as a terrorist.
For the past one week, Khalid’s family has been constantly watching news channel reports, suggesting that Khalid booked for sedition for his alleged anti-India remarks worked for a terror group. “Quoting unnamed sources, some news channels say my son is from Kashmir and has terror links. We are from Nagpur, Maharashtra. My son is a meritorious student with a Leftist ideology. In this media-trial, the vocabulary used by some channels is shocking. They have found a Muslim face. Kanhaiya is being labelled as Leftist while my son has terror links,” said Khalid’s father Dr Syed Qasim Rasool, who was once a member of SIMI in the early 80’s when it was not a banned organisation.
Watch | Absconding JNU student’s father speaks out against trial by media
Refusing to go abroad for further studies like his younger sister Fatima, Khalid had confessed he wanted to be a journalist and report from the tribal areas of the country. His father is an Editor for an Urdu newspaper, they run from the third floor of their apartment in Jamia Nagar.
“When he joined JNU, he was influenced by the Leftist ideology like many others there. He did not want a regular job but wanted to work for the Dalits. He was there at Jantar Mantar during the Rohith Vemula and Occupy UGC protests. His subject for PH D was the condition of Dalits in the country. How can he work for terrorists when he has openly defied religion? Charge him for sedition, send him to trial but don’t tarnish our image,” Syed said.
Khalid’s sister Kulsum Fatima, an alumni of the St Stephens College worries about her brother’s return. “My brother’s decision to defy religion and be a leftist caused heartburn but we are fine with that. My brother questioned the Afzal Guru hanging and so has people like Justice Katju, Arundhati Roy. Will they file sedition case against all of them?” Kulsum said.
Devastated is the word, Khalid’s family believe that describes their life at the moment. The media trial has hurt them most. “My brother’s slogan is Jai Bhim. That is the ideology he lives by. He had got 97 in Mathematics and got admission in Kirori Mal College. He could have been anything but he developed interest in History and decided to work for underprivileged. He even used his stipend money at JNU for Dalits,” said Kulsum.
Khalid’s father Syed said he has no knowledge of his son’s whereabouts. “I appeal my son – wherever he is - to come back and face trial. But I fear for him. I also appeal to the government to ensure he is not lynched,” he said.