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'He Is Filled With Courage': Umar Khalid’s Mother as He Marks Two Years in Jail

Khalid’s mother talked about his time behind bars, the injustice, and their time apart since his arrest.

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Edited By :Karan Mahadik

On Tuesday, 13 September 2022, activist Umar Khalid completed two years in Delhi’s Tihar Jail after being arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, and he still awaits trial.

The Delhi Police arrested Khalid on charges of conspiring to create communal violence during former US President Donald Trump’s visit to India in 2020; the police also charged him with sedition and 18 other sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), including murder and attempt to murder.

Exactly two years later, Umar Khalid’s mother Sabiha Khanum spoke to The Quint at a solidarity meet for Khalid at Delhi's Press Club of India and talked about his time behind bars, the injustice against him, and their time apart since his arrest.

“Of course it is difficult. Every mother can understand what it may feel like when her son is in jail. Umar’s courage has not reduced by even one percent,” she said.

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With a faint smile on her face, Khalid’s mother said:

“These people, this government, wants to suppress the countless voices rising up against it, through different forms of oppression – houses are being broken down and innocents are being put behind bars. But through these two years, under such circumstances, Umar is filled with courage and with him, we are also filled with courage.”

‘I Know How Okay He Actually Is’

Even after he tells her that he is okay, Khalid's mother said that she knows how okay he actually is.

“We all know that Umar is alone in the jail cell. I feel as if there is a lock outside and the key is with someone else. I can understand how claustrophobic it can feel like, but he always gives me strength and says, ‘Amma aap fikar mat karna, mai bilkul theek hoon' (Mom, please don’t worry, I am absolutely okay).”
Sabiha Khanum, Umar Khalid’s mother

She also mentioned that she reminiscences about Khalid’s meetings with his sisters, where he "cracks very lame jokes during the 10-15 minutes we get with him, which gets over very quickly.”

“We don’t even realise how quickly the time passes. Meeting him completely refreshes us,” she added.

Khalid's mother also said that it is his courage that helps them face feelings of sadness.

“If it were a scenario where he expressed his sadness and pain, we would also be troubled. So, he does not tell us about his sadness and is facing this with complete courage,” Khanum said.

Khalid’s mother, who along with his family and friends, have long been waiting for the activist’s bail. When asked if she had a message for Khalid, she said:

“Zulm ki raat lambi nahi hoti, voh subah zaroor aayegi (The night of oppression does not last long, the morning will surely come).”

The Anxiety of Incarceration

“I don’t want to trouble him more,” the activist’s mother said when asked if she speaks to Khalid about the anxiety that he feels inside the jail.

“I want that the time we have is of laughter and happiness with him,” she added.

Khanum further said:

“All of us know that with the coronavirus, majority of the people have spent some amount of time in quarantine, where we all were suffocated inside our own houses. At that time, everyone called me and told me that they are thinking of Umar.”

She also dedicated a few lines of poetry to Khalid, who continues to be lodged in Tihar Jail, awaiting trial.

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Edited By :Karan Mahadik
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