JNU student activist Umar attacked near Parliament

JNU student activist Umar attacked near Parliament

Khalid was at the venue to attend an event titled 'Khauff Se Azaadi', organised by an organisation named 'United Against Hate'. (DH Photo)

In a shocking incident, student activist Umar Khalid on Monday escaped unhurt when an unidentified man attempted to open fire at him outside Constitution Club, located 500 metres away from Parliament House.

Khalid, who was with his three friends, escaped unhurt though the attacker scuffled with him as he tried to fire bullets. The incident comes at a time the national capital is under heavy security for the Independence Day, exposing the preparedness of the security establishment ahead of the celebrations.

"There is an atmosphere of fear in the country, and anybody who speaks against the government is threatened," Khalid said soon after the incident even as condemnation poured in over the incident.

While some eye-witnesses claimed they heard gunshots, police said the pistol had jammed during an attempt to fire. No bullets were fired because of this. Usually, there is the smell of gunpowder when a bullet is fired but there was none this time, a senior police official said.

"Investigation is on. It was a loaded gun, a bullet is stuck, the crime scene is being searched for the bullet cap as Khalid in his statement has said shots were fired," Joint Commissioner of Police Ajay Chaudhary said.

Khalid was attending a conference 'Khauff Se Azaadi' (Freedom from Fear) at the Constitution Club, located on Rafi Marg, and had come out at around 2.10 pm with three friends to have tea when the incident happened.

According to eye-witnesses, a well-built man in a white shirt came out of the Constitution Club as Khalid and his friends were returning after tea. The man pushed Khalid just outside the gate and aimed at him.

"Khalid lost balance, fell down and the bullet missed him. We tried to catch the man. He fired aerial shots, the pistol slipped off his hands and he fled," one of Khalid's friends said while another said the man put his pistol on Khalid's stomach. Eyewitnesses also claimed that they heard two sounds resembling gunshots.

Another eye-witness, government employee Ashish Pandey said there was a scuffle and the man with a pistol broke free from Khalid and friends and ran towards Niti Ayog and disappeared. "I was having tea. It was all over in minutes. I saw the scuffle and suddenly saw the man with the pistol running away. He slipped near INS Building, the pistol fell and he fled the scene without the pistol," Pandey told DH.

Congress condemned the incident saying, "there is no place for violence in a democratic society, where all differences should be resolved through dialogue and open communication and civic participation."

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah tweeted, "wage a motivated hate campaign against individuals and sooner or later someone will feel emboldened enough to take law into their own hands."