New Delhi: Jawaharlal Nehru University student leader Umar Khalid was shot at outside the Constitution Club today, with eyewitnesses saying that one bullet was fired. Nobody was injured in the incident.
Khalid was at Constitution Club to speak at an event called ‘Freedom From Fear’, which was also going to be addressed by Radhika Vemula, family members of lynching victims, The Wire journalist Arfa Khanum Sherwani, Hapur lynching survivor Samaydin and others.
A bullet was fired at him just as he was about to enter the Constitution Club premises.
Constitution Club is in central Delhi, an area that has been designated a high-security zone in the run-up to Independence Day.
“It’s ironic (the attack, given the nature of the event), but it’s not surprising,” Khalid told The Quint. “Just five minutes ago, there was an attempt to kill me. A person came with a gun, tried to overpower me, tried to shoot me down. Thankfully, my friends were there with me, who tried to overpower him in return. He ran away and he fired from across the road.”
“What has happened in the last two years is that there has been such a disinformation, hateful, propaganda campaign that has been spread by some media houses, by troll armies of the ruling party, where anyone who opposes the present government, who questions the present government, they are branded anti-nationals, they are branded all kinds of things, and then anything can be done to them. I was very scared in that moment when he pointed the gun at me. In that moment I was being reminded of what happened to Gauri Lankesh, and I thought that moment has arrived. I’m really thankful to my friends who were present there that they could overpower him and I survived.”
An eyewitness told ANI that the bullet was fired by a man in a white shirt and narrowly missed Khalid. When people tried to catch him, the pistol slipped from his hand and he fled, the eyewitness said.
There was an event, Umar Khalid accompanied us. We were at a tea stall when a man in white shirt came,pushed&opened fire at him. Khalid lost his balance,fell down&bullet missed him. We tried to catch the man. He fired aerial shots,pistol slipped off his hands,he fled: Eyewitness pic.twitter.com/oqRcfgRPcY
— ANI (@ANI) August 13, 2018
Others also said the man in question had long hair.
A large number of students, leaders and others condemned the attack on social media.
Vilification in the media and online abuse can lead to real violence. This should alarm all of us. https://t.co/AXwMOieBuy
— Audrey Truschke (@AudreyTruschke) August 13, 2018
Shocking and highly condemnable: a guy attacked Umar Khalid from behind and tried to shoot him in Delhi. This is the direct result of hatred whipped up by Republic TV & other hate media. I spoke to Umar. He’s okay, but we should be very very worried about his safety.
— Shehla Rashid (@Shehla_Rashid) August 13, 2018
My reaction on Umar Khalid pic.twitter.com/wkjOLFyip3
— Jignesh Mevani (@jigneshmevani80) August 13, 2018
If this doesn’t chill your spine what will? If you choose silence now when will you speak?
If this is not wrong, what is wrong?
— Kunal Kamra (@kunalkamra88) August 13, 2018
Khalid was one of the JNU students charged with sedition and arrested in February last year after an event on Afzal Guru. The government and police were widely criticised for slapping sedition charges on the students.