‘My children ask me when their father will be home:’ jailed activist Khalid Saifi’s wife

Khalid Saifi File Photo

On February 26, social activist Khalid Saifi completed three years in jail in the Delhi riots conspiracy case. A court in Delhi had discharged Saifi and Umar Khalid in the case in December last year, but both had to remain in jail as they are also charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in another case related to an alleged larger conspiracy behind the riots.

In an interview with TwoCircles.net, Nargis Saifi, wife of Khalid Saifi, opens up on difficulties she and her family have faced after her husband’s incarceration, the status of cases filed against him and her hopes.

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Your husband Khalid Saifi has completed three years in jail. What do you have to say?
I don’t know how to respond to your question. I don’t know how to tell you about these three years. These years have just went by. It is quite difficult for the family whose men are in jail. I will not be able to express how tough this time [has been]. Our difficulties are plenty. My children keep asking me when will their father get back home. My eyes are set on the doors and my ears want to hear his voice. There used to be a particular time in the evening when he used to come home. That time feels desolate. On our children’s birthdays, we don’t feel any excitement anymore as we used to.

The holy month of Ramadan is approaching. At each Ramadan, we hope that he will be with us. Our children are hoping that they will keep their first fast with their father this Ramadan. However, with the kind of situation that is prevalent now, we are not certain what would happen in this regard. The bail order in his case is reserved.

In these three years, our children have been badly affected by their father’s incarceration. They see their father being called a “terrorist” in the media. They ask me why their father is called a “terrorist”. It is extremely difficult for me to explain these things to them. At school, other children ask them about their father. My children respond by saying their father lives somewhere else. My six-year-old daughter gives this answer on her own. She told me about this.

My children have lost their childhood. Most of my time goes into fighting the cases filed against Khalid. On some days, I prepare breakfast for them in the morning, go to the court and remain there till the evening. My children have even learnt how to cook in my absence.

What are his [Saifi’s] conditions in jail?
It will be better if you don’t ask about his condition in jail. I would not want to jail even my enemy. Animal stables are far cleaner than the jail. In jail, many people are kept in one room. If you fell ill, no one would take care of you. You don’t get medicines on time. You have to struggle to get medicine. Once, Khalid suffered from vomiting, loose motion and fever. He did not get any medicine. He did not get food. He has to eat sub-standard food which others used to get. Even animals would not eat such food. It’s not a house for reformation. It is a torture house.

Can you tell us about the cases filed against Saifi and their status?
There are three cases against him. One is related to Jagatpuri FIR no 44, another FIR no 101 was filed by the Crime Branch and the third one is the FIR 59 related to the UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act). The FIR no 101 was quashed [by a court in Delhi] as it was proved to be a false case. In FIR no 44, Khalid got bail. In the UAPA case, the hearing for the bail has concluded, and the order has been reserved since December. We don’t know why the order is being reserved for such a long time.

Do you think that he will get bail?
We keep our hope alive. Hopelessness is not part of our faith. For now, we only want bail. I want my husband back with our children. Getting bail will not not enough. This is a long battle which will continue even after getting bail.

What is the truth to the allegations levelled against him?
Did you see the viral video related to the Delhi riots? That will show you what happened during the riots. Who had instigated the riots? Who caused chaos in the region? Every video shows it clearly. Everything is clear.

Unfortunately, those who wanted to stop riots and protect people were arrested. The government took undue advantage of the Covid-19 period. During the Covid-19 lockdown, all those who were part of anti-CAA protests were arrested. They arrested people who took part in the protests or spoke at the protest. These people had nothing to do with the riots. They were arrested arbitrarily in false cases. There was no ground to file those cases. Therefore, they were booked under the UAPA to deny them bail. As far as I understand, the UAPA was used to intimidate and break Khalid and other peace-loving activists who were fighting to protect the constitution.