Was reminded of Gauri Lankesh, ran inside to save myself from gunman: Umar Khalid
“There is not a day when I don’t anticipate an attack on myself,” said JNU student leader Umar Khalid. On Monday afternoon when he allegedly had a pistol pointed to his chest, he said he felt “the moment had arrived”.
“When I had a gun pointed at me for 10-15 seconds, I thought it was the end. I thought I was going to be shot dead,” Khalid said a few hours after the alleged attempt on his life by an unidentified gunman outside the Constitution Club of India near Parliament House in New Delhi.
“I was very scared when the gun was pointed at me. I was reminded of what happened to Gauri Lankesh. I thought that moment has arrived,” said Khalid, who was arrested in 2016 for allegedly raising seditious slogans at an event in JNU.
As he grappled with the suspect who had allegedly “pounced” on him from behind, Khalid’s “instinctive response” was to try and force the gun away from him. “I wanted the gun away from my chest. My hands would instinctively push away the gun each time it was pointed towards me,” Khalid recounted.
Moments after the suspect loosened his grip and escaped, Khalid ran into the club.
“I ran inside to save myself. I wanted to be among people at the club,” said Khalid.
Khalid said his three friends accompanying him at the time of the attack were instrumental in saving his life. “When the attacker tried to pin me down, my friends overpowered him. That prevented him from shooting me,” said Khalid.
He said that he did not know the individual or any organisation who may have been behind it and urged the police to identify them soon.
“I hope the police do not botch up the probe,” said Khalid.
Madhur Verma, deputy commissioner of police (New Delhi), has said that the attack appeared to be pre-planned and that the attacker knew Khalid’s schedule and may have followed him before the assault. The DCP has said that there were strong leads about the suspect who has been captured by CCTV cameras.
Khalid dismissed certain reports on social media that slogans in his favour were raised at the crime spot immediately after the attack.
He also refuted suspicion by certain sections that he had planned the attack. “I had a gun pointed at me in a public place. There are multiple independent eyewitnesses,” said Khalid.
Meanwhile, Ajay Chaudhary, joint commissioner of police (New Delhi Range), said that the organisers of the ‘Khauf Se Azaadi’ being attended by Khalid had not informed the local police about the programme.
However, Nadeem Khan, a core member of the campaign platform ‘United Against Hate’, said that there was never a need to inform police for an event organised indoors. “The police need to explain how a man visited such a high security zone just two days before Independence Day celebrations,” said Khan.