After missing for over a week post JNU Students Union head Kanhaiya Kumar's arrest on charges of sedition, students of the Jawaharlal Nehru University accused of sedition re-surfaced at the university's campus late on Sunday night.
Umar Khalid and others who are accused in the same case as Kumar - of making anti-national statements at the university campus on February 9 - turned up at the JNU campus and also addressed the assembled students.
While there's been one video that has done the rounds on YouTube that has gone viral, ScoopWhoop's Prithwish Barman caught the first speech given by Khalid after he resurfaced in the university campus. In the video, Khalid speaks about how his family was threatened while he had gone missing, saying that his sister had received rape threats.
Khalid said that while the university was being targeted, there were other cases like that of workers in Gurgaon, Soni Sori in Chattisgarh, and others that showed the university being targeted wasn't an isolated incident.
"If 1947 was our tryst with destiny then this is our tryst with reality. It is up to us to show how we will stand up to this reality," he said.
Khalid pointed out that it wasn't the first time that the students of the university had held an event on Kashmir, Afzal Guru or the condemnation of the death penalty. But he admitted there was a slight problem with the slogans used at the event.
"It's true that some of the slogans used there weren't ours... If there is a small problem I see with those slogans, it is that when we are trying to enter into a dialogue with the 'Indian population', it creates a lot of antagonism rather than dialogue. The population you are trying to talk with is getting antagonised," he said.
Khalid said that the onus was also on students to understand the anger of the people.
See his full speech here:
He later made another speech in the university campus in the presence of the media.
"Saathiyon mera naam Umer Khalid zaroor hai, but I am not a terrorist," he said to laughter from the assembled students.
Khalid thanked every one of the students and faculty members who had hit the streets over the past week to protest against the arrest of Kumar and the campaign against the college.
"This battle wasn't just for five-six of us but it is a battle for all of us. It's a battle for this university. It's a battle for every university of the nation. It's a battle for this nation, for this society. Because it will decide what kind of society we'll have," he said.
Khalid also said that there had been profiling of those who had been missing so far and pointed out that there had been no apologies or disclaimers from the media.
"The manner in which lies were spread, if these mediawallahs think they will get away, then they are wrong," he said.
"For the last six years when I have done politics in this campus I have not thought of myself as a Muslim. I have never projected myself as a Muslim... For the first time I felt I was a Muslim and that was in the past 10 days," Khalid said.
Khalid also criticised the government saying that students wouldn't cede any ground.
"There is no need to panic. They can have a majority. They can have the media and the state apparatus. But they are cowards. They are scared of our struggles and the way we think," he said.
"It has become very easy to become anti-national," he said, adding: "If you think, you're anti-national now."
"If you think that you can change JNU, then there are many who have come and gone thinking the same," he said.
He said that it was a test by the government to see if they would get scared.
"We will not give you an inch," he said. Khalid said that the government still didn't have the support of the masses.
"A university which does not allow dissent becomes a prison. It is their agenda to make the universities prisons and we will not allow that," he said.
Feature image source: YouTube