The Jawaharlal Nehru University witnessed a Holi-like celebration after students Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya, who were jailed in a sedition case, were released on interim bail by a Delhi court on Friday.
Hours after his release from Tihar jail in the sedition case over the February 9 Afzal Guru event, Khalid said he has no regrets of being jailed.
“We have no regrets of being jailed in this particular case. We are in fact proud of the fact that we have been booked under sedition, a law under which activists like Arundhati Roy and Binayak Sen were booked.
“Our names have been added to the list of those who have been jailed for raising their voices,” he told a gathering at the varsity.
In a 35-minute speech, Umar said, “I am not ashamed that I was in jail. Criminals are those who are in power, those in jail are the ones who raise their voice.”
“I also don’t think that freedom of expression is in danger. It only belongs to those in power. People like (Pravin) Togadia and Yogi Adityanath have all the freedom of expression,” he said.
Umar claimed that he was being labelled a terrorist because of Islam, which, he said, he did not practice.
“I never followed Islam but I was called Islamist terrorist. It was not just my trial but entire Muslim community’s trial. But I want to ask what if I was practising Muslim? What if I came from Azamgarh and wore a skull cap? That will be enough to give me a terrorist certificate”, he said.
After being welcomed his sister Sara and a gathering of JNU students, including the union president Kanhaiya Kumar, Khalid said, “Those who are raising concerns about wastage of taxpayers’ money, we want to tell them we are not going to go back to studies now that we are back from jail. By jailing us you have given bigger responsibilities on our shoulders and we will fulfill that by fighting.”
Umar, and Anirban Bhattacharya, arrested last month on charges of sedition for their involvement in a controversial event organised to protest hanging of Afzal Guru, were granted interim bail for six months on Friday by a Delhi court on ground of parity with Kanhaiya.
Kanhaiya, who was also arrested on charges of sedition in connection with the February 9 event at the JNU, was granted bail earlier this month.