JNU scholar Umar Khalid targeted, escapes (Second Lead)

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New Delhi : JNU scholar Umar Khalid, accused of raising anti-national slogans in 2016, was attacked in the heart of the capital on Monday by one or two men but police declined to confirm if he was fired at as claimed by the ex-student and his friends.

Joint Commissioner of Police Ajay Chaudhary said preliminary investigation showed that an unknown man dragged Khalid when he was with five friends at a tea stall outside the Constitution Club, not far from Parliament.

"A scuffle took place between them," the officer told the media. "The accused managed to escape. It is not clear yet whether the attacker fired or not with his weapon."

He said a First Information Report (FIR) was being filed and the case was being probed from all possible angles. A weapon found at the spot was being examined. "We have deployed the best officers to nab the attacker."

Khalid went to the Constitution Club to attend a "United Against Hate" programme where the listed speakers included noted lawyer Prashant Bhushan, MP Manoj Jha and journalist Amit Sen Gupta.

Arif, a witness to the crime, said Khalid was with him "when the attacker targeted us". He said there were at least two attackers.

Deputy Commissioner of Police Madhur Verma earlier quoted Khalid as saying that someone pounced on him and pushed him around 2.30 p.m.

"Thereafter he tried to fire at Khalid. But the person couldn't fire immediately," Verma said. "People started chasing him. Thereafter, according to Khalid, the attacker fired in the air."

This version - based on Khalid's account - was not backed by Joint Commissioner of Police Ajay Chaudhary.

The officer said the local police were not informed about the booking of the programme at the Constitution Club.

The incident took place about half-a-kilometre from Parliament and behind the high-security Reserve Bank of India. The Constitution Club is itself located in a block of apartments, many of which are occupied by MPs.

Khalid was rusticated and fined by the Jawaharlal Nehru University last month after he along with two others -- Kanhaiya Kumar and Anirban Bhattacharya -- were found guilty of raising anti-national slogans at a poetry-reading event in the campus on February 9, 2016.