Jawaharlal Nehru University students Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya, jailed in a sedition case, were released on interim bail by a Delhi court on Friday evening. The duo reached the campus late night to a rousing welcome from students who cheered them with slogans of ‘azadi’ and ‘laal salam’.
Khalid was welcomed at the gathering by JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar and his 6-year-old sister Sara. Addressing the students, he said he had no regrets on being jailed and was rather proud of being booked under the said charges.
Umar and Anirban were arrested last month on charges of sedition for their involvement in a controversial event organised to protest hanging of Afzal Guru. 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.
Here are the highlights of the speech given by Umar Khalid:
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. This government and RSS thought that by profiling us and by witch-hunting, they can break us...break our unity, then they are delusional.
4. I had defended myself that I am not a Muslim. But I thought what if I were a Muslim? What if I came from Azamgarh, wore a skull cap? I felt like the guy in the book ‘reluctant fundamentalist’. And still you can’t ask me such questions.
5. 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.
6. They had to use a law from 1860. These so-called nationalists had to turn to Britishers for putting us in jail. This is what Bhagat Singh said… that brown British will suppress people.
7. 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.