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Kanhaiya Vs Umar Khalid: Two JNU students with different destinies

Popular face from JNU who was equivalent to the former JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar, that is Umar Khalid, but right now he is in Jail.

By Ayushman Ojha
New Update
Umar Khalid may get bail today in Delhi Riots case

Kanhaiya Kumar, one of India's prominent young politicians joined the Congress from the Communist Party of India on Tuesday. Kumar gave a invoking inaugural speech and came with a belief that Congress is necessary for this nation to survive. He is the same Kanhaiya who had to face the sedition charges and was a part of the so called 'Tukde Tukde gang'. There was one more popular face from JNU who was equivalent to the former JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar, that is Umar Khalid, but right now he is in Jail.

In the Spotlight

They both came to the spot light when they were slapped with sedition charges along with eight other students for allegedly organising an event to protest against the “judicial killing” of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru and Maqbool Bhat at the Jawaharlal Nehru University on February 9, 2016. It is alleged that anti-India slogans were raised at the event.

Kanhaiya Kumar went to jail and got his bail on March 3 2016 from High Court whereas Khalid reportedly absconded from the scene, appeared on different television channels defending the event and was arrested after he resurfaced in the campus on February 23. However, he was granted bail by a sessions court.

Different destinies

Kanhaiya and Khalid, both are considered communists, activists and vocal critic of the BJP. But after Kumar's release from jail, his 50 minutes speech made people believe that he was ready for the national politics. Kanhaiya believed it too as he got all the publicity for being so vocal at attacking BJP and PM Modi in particular. He became the face of Anti-Modi. The CPI handed him the support and with all the crowd-funding, pomp and show, Kanhaiya contested for the Lok Sabha Elections from his native place Begusarai. It seemed that he may win but he lost with a margin of massive four lac votes to the veteran Giriraj Singh

On the other hand, Umar Khalid, could be seen sometimes in the news because of his tweets or speeches but it was not like before. It's not that he did not have the spine to rise as Kanhaiya did but he kept on working on the ground level. He was rusticated for one semester from JNU and later there were hindrances even in his submission of PhD thesis. In the Bhima Koregaon incident, Umar Khalid, along with Jignesh Mevani was booked under a first-information report for giving provocative speeches in Pune in 2018. After that he narrowly escaped an assassination attempt.

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Perhaps, the downfall of CPI and Kanhaiya Kumar losing the elections could be the reason of him joining Congress. Kumar has shifted towards the hardcore politics from being a mere activist. It is nothing new in politics as we have already seen people leaving Anna Hazare to form parties and win elections.

In 2020 Umar Khalid was arrested in connection with the Delhi riots after that infamous midnight knock. Many people rallied in for his support but his comrade-in-arms Kanhaiya Kumar was silent.

Kanhaiya Kumar slowly drifted away from the politics of Umar Khalid. Although he lost the Begusarai seat in Bihar in the 2019 Lok Sabha election, Kanhaiya still wants to be a politician, and that just means one thing, having an Umar Khalid by your side is way too inconvenient in Narendra Modi’s India today.

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