The Delhi Police Crime Branch has arrested Pinjra Tod activist Devangana Kalita, 30, in connection with the violence in Daryaganj during a protest against the new citizenship law, last year. She was arrested on Saturday and taken into police custody for three days.
On December 20, a protest against the law at Delhi Gate remained peaceful till 5 pm. Police alleged that the protests turned violent when over 1,000 people from Seelampur made their way to the protest site. Around 6 pm, a constable’s car parked outside Darya Ganj police station was set on fire, and as stone pelting started, police used lathicharge and a water cannon to disperse the crowd. The violence left at least 45 people, including 13 police officers, injured.
Police said Kalita had gone to a private hospital hours after the incident, where her MLC was made and that and they had confirmed her presence at the protest site.
“On May 23, she was first arrested by the Jafrabad police station along with another activist of Pinjra Tod, Natasha Narwal (32), on charges with their alleged role in the anti-CAA Jafrabad sit-in protest in February this year. A day after, they were both released on bail, but the another unit of crime branch made their arrest under charges of murder, attempt to murder, rioting and criminal conspiracy. They were sent to 14-days judicial custody from where first Narwal was arrested by the Special Cell under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for alleged conspiracy behind the February riots in North-East Delhi. She was arrested again on Saturday, on charges of unlawful assembly and rioting at Daryaganj,” a senior police officer said.
The Jafrabad sit-in had prompted a pro-CAA rally by BJP’s Kapil Mishra on February 23. A day later, riots broke out in Northeast Delhi.
Meanwhile, criticizing the arrest of Kalita, Pinjra Tod in the statement said, “The protest of Daryaganj was among the first massive protests against the CAA in Delhi, where Pinjra Tod members, among thousands of others joining the call, were caught in a brutal lathi charge by the Delhi police. Apart from herself suffering injuries in the police lathi charge, it is important to note that the 16 other people accused in connection with the protest of Daryaganj have all got bail. Along with a total inability to produce evidence of involvement in violence, the fact that 16 people accused have got bail and that as per Delhi high court rules, non-completion of investigation is not grounds for police custody; Devangana has been put under police custody.”
“The use of draconian laws such as the UAPA, and their invocation against democratic activists is a clear abuse of the powers vested in the state. We condemn the strategy being used by the police of invoking new and unsubstantiated charges on Devangana and Natasha as per the convenience of their narrative and without any basis,” it states.
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