Student activist Umar Khalid on Tuesday said the “real culprits” behind the attack on him were those breeding an atmosphere of hatred, bloodlust, and fear from their seats of power, and those who have provided an atmosphere of complete impunity for assassins and mob lynchers. In a Facebook post, Khalid claimed that his life had been made extremely unsafe after spokespersons of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, prime-time news anchors and television channels spread rumours about him and branded him an “anti-national”.
Unidentified men outside the Constitution Club in New Delhi attacked Khalid on Monday. A gun was reportedly found at the scene of the attack, and witnesses claimed two shots were fired. Khalid escaped unhurt. The police said two attackers reportedly escaped the site. Investigators are trying to verify if Khalid was the target of the attack. The case was transferred to the Delhi Police Special Cell on Tuesday, ANI reported.
“The fact that two days before Independence Day, in one of the most ‘High Security’ zones of the national capital, an armed assailant could dare to attack me in broad daylight only goes onto show the brazen impunity that some people feel they enjoy under the present regime,” wrote Khalid.
Citing the murders of journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh and rationalists Govind Pansare, Narendra Dabholkar, and MM Kalburgi, Khalid said he somehow knew that one day “a gun maybe turned against” him too. With the repeated death threats against his life, Khalid called upon the Delhi Police to provide him security cover.
“In the last two years, I have demanded police protection twice from the Delhi Police, but only to be met with a callous response,” he said. “After yesterday’s incident, what is the Delhi Police waiting for? I appeal to all democratic forces to pressurize the Delhi Police to provide me with security, as it is no longer possible for me to go anywhere anymore without security.”
He said that a hate campaign against him had continued for the last two years, and that he was constantly subjected to a media trial without any chargesheet or evidence. “There has been no chargesheet, only media-trial,” he wrote. “There has been no debate, only death threats.”
Khalid shot into the limelight after an event at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University in February 2016 in which he and a few other students were accused of shouting “anti-national slogans”. The event was organised to commemorate the death anniversary of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, who was hanged to death. Former president of JNU Students’ Union, Kanhaiya Kumar, was also accused along with Khalid.
Cartridges from gun sent for forensic testing: Police
The gun found outside Constitution Club appeared to be a country-made pistol, a Delhi police officer said according to The Indian Express. “The pistol recovered from the spot is an old one and is rusted and jammed,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (New Delhi) Madhur Verma said. “We have also recovered all the six live cartridges and sent it to Central Forensic Science Laboratory.”