In the afternoon of August 13, reports emerged from New Delhi that JNU student leader Umar Khalid was shot at by an unknown assailant. According to these reports, the incident took place outside the Constitution Club of India. Khalid escaped unhurt while the assailant fled the spot after discarding the weapon.

Social media was quick to react over this development. A video soon began to circulate widely in which a journalist with Dainik Bhaskar, Santosh Kumar claimed that while there was indeed an incident of firing outside the Constitution Club, Umar Khalid was not present at the spot when the incident took place.

Santosh Kumar claimed that he was witness to a scuffle which had broken out between two persons near a tea kiosk close to the gate of the Constitution Club. The attacker had a gun in his hand and he pushed the other person on to the ground and was about to shoot at him, but was resisted by other persons due to which he fled from the spot after firing a shot in the air at some distance. Kumar also claimed that Umar Khalid was not present at the spot when this scuffle took place, and in fact emerged from the Constitution Club building later.

This video was posted by Vikas Bhadauria, who is a journalist with ABP News. Within no time, Bhadauria’s tweet was retweeted over 1600 times and prominent right-wing social media users began to assert on the basis of this ‘eye-witness account’ that Khalid had staged the attack. Founder of Postcard News Mahesh Vikram Hegde also shared Santosh Kumar’s video, and so did those who are followed on Twitter by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The claim that Khalid was not around at the place of the incident has quickly made its way on to Facebook as well.

Flip flop by Santosh Kumar

Santosh Kumar, the journalist who was present at the spot and whose on-camera testimony was popularised by right-wing social media users to claim that Khalid had indulged in drama, later altered his version of events and claimed that he wasnt sure whether the person who had been targeted by the assailant was Umar Khalid or not.

It may be reiterated that Kumar had earlier said that Khalid was not present at the spot when the incident occurred. Alt News contacted Umar Khalid to ascertain his version of events as they transpired outside the Constitution Club. Khalid said, “The incident happened next to a tea stall outside the Constitution Club. When we started leaving, a guy came from behind, held my neck and overpowered me. I fell down in the mud. He took out a pistol and started aiming at me. My instinctive reaction was not to let him aim and hold his hand away. My friends also started resisting and pushed him aside. He then ran from the spot.” Alt News also found a video on Facebook of Umar Khalid speaking to reporters and describing the incident.

It may be noted that the entire sequence of events as depicted by Khalid matches the version proclaimed by Santosh Kumar but with one key difference- according to Khalid, the person who was attacked was him whereas Kumar had earlier claimed that Khalid was not present at the spot, and later expressed doubt over his own claim.

Alt News also spoke to Banojyotsna Lahiri who had accompanied Khalid to the Constitution Club and was present at the spot when the incident occurred. “We were all having tea outside the venue. As I was going, someone came and held Umar from the back. I thought it may be a friend, and he pinned him (Umar) down. I was standing to the left of Umar, he was holding the gun with his right hand which I did not see initially. I tried to push him, and he took two steps back and brandished a gun. When he stepped back, we saw the gun and then he started running. We took Umar to safety inside the gate of Constitution Club. After that, the three of us ran behind him (the attacker) but by that time he had gained some distance. We heard a shot being fired. He had escaped but we saw the gun lying on the street.”

Speaking to Alt News, Shariq Husain who was also present at the spot with Umar Khalid said, “We were having tea and when we were leaving, someone held Khalid by the throat and pinned him down. He had a gun which was pressed on Khalid’s stomach. I started kicking the assailant’s hand. He then started running away and I chased him for a distance. He turned around and shot at me. He then left the gun right there and fled the spot.” 

All the three statements of those who were present at the site of the incident including Umar Khalid are consistent in their version of the sequence of events. The sequence of events also largely matches with what has been described by Santosh Kumar, whose version has been widely shared on social media. However, Kumar’s assertion that Umar Khalid was not present at the spot but came later contradicts the eyewitnesses’ claim that Khalid was indeed the target of attack. Later, Kumar had tweeted that he was not sure if the assaulted person was Umar Khalid or not.

While the police has clarified that it is conducting an investigation into the incident, the issue of concern is the manner in which an aggressive, concerted campaign is already underway on social media to brush off the seriousness of the incident and to discredit the claim of Umar Khalid that he was attacked, on the basis of a dubious testimony by a reporter who has since altered his version.

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Neha SharmaAwanish SharmaGuy GardnerRakesh AgrawalAmit Prasad Recent comment authors
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N D Sharma

Dainik Bhaskar published a blatant lie about the death about its Group Editor, Kalpesh Yagnik. If its correspondent tells a small lie, that is understandable.

Amit Prasad
Amit Prasad

stop spreading false narrative. We know who your witness were. AAP and congress supporter who all used the accident to create him a hero.. dude he is nothing .. simply nothing for a nationalist like us.

Rakesh Agrawal
Rakesh Agrawal

Who is this dalla, lousy, bikau journalist? A bloody black-spot on the face of journalism, a sanghi chamcha! Khalid was indeed attacked by his sanghi comrade. Expose morons, shameless and soul-less so-called journalists like him!

Guy Gardner
Guy Gardner

How do you know Journalist is lying not Khalid? Has police finished investigation? You cannot publish such bullshit lies because Khalid is your favored ideology man. As it is Alt news is reputed to lying doctoring spinning news in Hinduphobia what is your credibility? It was also proven RSS- BJP had no hand in Lankesh murder but CONgress media did. Did you apologize for spreading fake canards on it?

Awanish Sharma
Awanish Sharma

ALT NEWS have become Judge now, they don’t need any proof, if they say its true everyone should believe it. ALT news is hate monger working for congress and people like khalid, for few piece of pink note they will happily let their pant down… These people are fakers they want their truth to prevail…

Neha Sharma

अच्छा हुआ कि गोड्से की गोलियाँ आपके सीने में उतर गई। नहीं तो अपनी जिन बातों के लिए आपने गोरों के समय में सिडिशन झेला है न, आज भी झेलते रहते। झेल ही रहे हैं, आपकी बताई राहों पर चलने वाले लोग। देशद्रोही, एंटी नेश्नल और न जाने कैसे कैसे तमगे मिले हैं उनको। ख़ैर बापू, उदास मत होना। आपकी बातें तो तब भी नहीं मानी गई थी। आज भी नहीं मानी गई हैं। आप तब भी प्रासंगिक थे, आज भी प्रासंगिक हैं। आपकी बातें कल भी शोषकों को अख़रती थी, आज भी शोषकों…सॉरी सरकारों को सुहाती नहीं। मैं चलता… Read more »