Why did Delhi Police detain Umar Khalid’s mother and sister at night?

The women were detained on the night of December 15, 2020. But the Supreme Court has mandated that it is illegal to arrest / detain women after sundown and before sunrise

attack on jamia students

The Delhi Police marked December 15, the anniversary of the 2019 attack on Jamia Millia Islamia University by allegedly detaining activist Umar Khalid’s mother and sister who were a part of a peace procession to commemorate the date. 

Those detained apart from the close family of activist Umar Khalid, included a group of students, and others who had taken out a small candle-light peace march.  The group included many women, and were holding a small candle procession in the Batla House locality. Soon Delhi Police personnel arrived and “took them away to an undisclosed location,” Syed Qasim Ilyas who is Khalid’s father told Scroll. He then went looking for them at three police stations, but none of them knew where his wife and daughter were. “First there was news that they are in Lajpat Nagar police station, so I went there,” Ilyas said. “But they were not there. Then they told me to go to New Friends Colony station. But they were not there either,” he was quoted. 

The police action was confirmed by a video clip shared by journalist Saahil Menghani. “That’s the police taking the kids away,” a man can be heard saying. 





A few hours after his wife and daughter were detained, Dr Ilyas stated that he received a call from his family, informing him that they have been released and were at “the Jamia Nagar Police station.”  The Scroll quoted activist Anirban Bhattacharya sharing information that there had been heavy police deployment around the Jamia University for the past few days, and was “particularly heavy” on Tuesday morning. The date marks one year since massive violence broke out after an anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protest march by the university students. Many were injured, and public property damaged. 

Meanwhile, as reported by Quint, the Delhi Police stated, “A group of protesters had assembled at Batla House for a candlelight march to mark the anniversary of the CAA agitation. The police team removed the agitators from the spot. Meanwhile, three ladies also accompanied the protesters. The protesters were then counseled regarding Covid-appropriate behaviour and were requested to return to their respective homes.” 

Delhi Police have been accused of using extreme force at the Jamia Millia Islamia University (JMIU) campus on December 15, 2019  which was a Sunday, and a group of students were holding marches and demonstrations against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in areas near the university campus. The police allegedly cracked down on protesters. However, the police alleged that protesters pelted stones and also allegedly set on fire six buses and 50 other vehicles. It was widely reported that police then allegedly forced their way into the university campus and beat up students with lathis, forcing many to take refuge in the library and urinals. It has also been alleged that the police lobbed tear gas shells to smoke out the students who had hidden. Delhi Police also allegedly beat up students offering namaz in the campus prayer hall. As many as 50 students were detained then, but let off late at night. Police also allegedly entered girls’ hostels and locked up the inmates, and shut down power supply to the hostels.

A video of women students who live as paying guests outside campus valiantly shielding a man under attack from police lathis had gone on to becoming iconic reminders of the day.



What happened on the night of December 15 2020 was a scary sense of deja vu. The fact that women were detained / arrested is particularly alarming. It is well known that  the Supreme Court of India has said that women cannot be arrested after sunset and before sunrise. According to legal websites provisions of sub-section (4) of Section 46 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 reads thus: Save in exceptional circumstances, no woman shall be arrested after sunset and before sunrise, and where such exceptional circumstances exist, the woman police officer shall, by making a written report, obtain the prior permission of the Judicial Magistrate of the first class within whose local jurisdiction the offence is committed or the arrest is to be made.” 

This is the norm that is to be followed. Is a candle march an “exceptional circumstance” that warranted the detention of women peacefully participating ? The Delhi Police are yet to answer that.


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