Delhi Riots: Chargesheet Links Umar Khalid, Khalid Saifi To 'Holy War' On India, Families Say 'Beyond Ridiculous'

Betwa Sharma
·2-min read
Former JNU student Umar Khalid speaks at a protest against Citizenship Amendment Act and the recent communal violence in New Delhi on March 3, 2020.
Former JNU student Umar Khalid speaks at a protest against Citizenship Amendment Act and the recent communal violence in New Delhi on March 3, 2020.

“How is it spelt? Could you spell it for me?” said Nargis Saifi, at the beginning of an awkward conversation about whether her husband Khalid Saifi believed in “Ghazwa-e-Hind,” a contested phrase used by a certain section of people to refer to a so-called ‘holy raid’ for Muslim domination over the Indian subcontinent.

Nargis isn’t the only one wondering suddenly what the word means.

“Umar is a non-believer. Everyone knows that,” said Sabiha Khanum, Umar Khalid’s mother, with an incredulous laugh. “How can he relate to something that is Islamic? This is not justified.”

A disclosure statement attributed to Saifi during the Delhi Police’s investigation of the Delhi riots says that he, a businessman, and Khalid, a political activist, are proponents of the controversial idea.

Disclosure statements are taken soon after an arrest, and do not have evidentiary value in a trial unless they lead to the discovery of new evidence. Defence lawyers in Delhi riot cases have contested the veracity of the statements attributed to their clients.

Rashid Kidwai, a political analyst and a fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, wrote in 2019 that while there is little clarity on what ‘Ghazwa e Hind’ means, it has been invoked by a wide range of characters from Pakistani militants to Pakistan actor Veena Malik and, closer home, by news channel Times Now.

“Umar Khalid is ultra-Left. There is an open negation of religion and faith. Prima facie, it looks far-fetched,” Kidwai told HuffPost India over the phone. “The term is used rather recklessly, and as a convenient ploy to present certain people in a certain light.”

For the stunned family members of Khalid and Saifi, even talking about Ghazwa-e-Hind seems “beyond ridiculous”.

And yet, they are worried. At a time when the Indian internet is rife with disinformation and anti-Muslim sentiments, it may only take one irresponsible media report to snowball into countless WhatsApp forwards that...

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