The Indian government has used two decades-old laws to suppress dissent and remove critics from public life: the colonial-era sedition law and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, a so-called anti-terror law. This is a profile of Umar Khalid, a 34-year-old scholar who is among the few Indians who have been charged under both. He has been in prison for nearly three years without a trial on highly contested allegations that he instigated the anti-Muslim riots that broke out when President Donald Trump visited Delhi in early 2020.
Khalid was a Ph.D. candidate at Jawaharlal Nehru University, one of India’s top schools, when he became a target of the government for speaking out against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policies. The government’s actions have had major implications for democracy in India, with Freedom House downgrading the country from "free" to "partly free" in 2022.
This essential investigation draws attention to the plight of Khalid while also demonstrating how the government has used the legal system, the police, and the mainstream media to hound critics and justify incarcerating them.