Jawaharlal Nehru University student activist Umar Khalid was shot at near the Constitution Club, near Parliament House, in the national capital on Monday. Khalid was attacked ahead of an event organised for the victims of mob lynching, hosted by United Against Hatred. The student leader, who faced sedition charges along with former JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar, was unhurt even as the person who fired at him and two suspected accomplices managed to escape in the high-security zone in New Delhi, two days ahead of Independence Day. Umar Khalid's parents had earlier registered a complaint after they received death threats against their son from the notorious Ravi Pujari gang.
Commenting on the attack, Khalid said that it did not surprise him as it appeared to be the culmination of hate campaigns and propaganda run by the IT cell of the ruling party. He said those persons raising their voices against the government were being branded anti-national and targeted with impunity.
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He said,"It's ironic but its not surprising. I want to make one thing clear, just five minutes ago a person tried to kill me, tried to overpower me and tried to shoot me down. Thankfully, my friends were there with me who tried to overpower him in return. He ran across the road and fired on me. What has happened in the last two years is that there has been disinformation [and] hateful campaigns that have been spread across by few media houses and troll armies of the ruling party where anyone one who opposes the present government and questions their policies is branded anti-national and anything can be done to them. I was very scared when he pointed the gun at me. At that moment, I was reminded of Gauri Lankesh and I thought that moment has arrived for me."
The attack was widely criticised on social media. Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said that the attack on Umar Khalid was the direct result of the relentless hate campaign using both social & mainstream media. He tweeted, "Wage a motivated hate campaign against individuals & sooner or later someone will feel emboldened enough to take the law into their own hands. The attack on @UmarKhalidJNU is the direct result of the relentless hate campaign using both social & mainstream media. Glad he’s well."
Raising questions about the security arrangements, prominent lawyer Prashant Bhushan tweeted, "A man shot at Umar Khalid of JNU at the Const. Club (where he organised a program against hate & fear) & ran away after throwing his pistol. Police can't nab him in this High security zone!"
In a statement, Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union condemned the dastardly attack and pointed out that such attacks cannot suppress fearless voices. Demanding immediate police action, it said, "From the JNUSU we would like to make it clear that no voice can be curbed and the students’ movement will continue to produce fearless voices. We also demand that the Delhi Police take all appropriate actions against those conspirators behind this attack.