Two days after a 27-year-old media coordinator of the Jamia Coordination Committee (JCC) was arrested by the North East district police in connection with the North East Delhi riots in February, the Delhi Police’s Special Cell also arrested her on Monday under charges of conspiracy. Police claim Safoora Zargar was among those who organised an anti-CAA protest and road blockade under Jafrabad Metro station on February 22-23. The protest had prompted a pro-CAA rally by Kapil Mishra and his supporters, following which riots broke out in the district.
This is the fourth arrest made by the Special Cell in connection with the riots during the lockdown, with officials claiming over 20 people associated with JCC, Pinjra Tod, JNU and DU’s school of open learning are under scanner.
DCP (North East) Ved Parkash Surya confirmed the arrest of Zargar, but refused to share details of charges against her or her alleged role in the riots.
Zargar, who hails from Kashmir, is currently an MPhil scholar of Sociology and is married. She lives with her family near the university campus.
“On Monday, she was produced before a court and was granted bail in connection with the arrest by the district police. However, the Special Cell also moved an application for her production warrant, and she was sent to two-day police custody,” a senior police officer said.
Zargar was among the initial two coordinators of the JCC, which was set up in December last year in light of protests raging on campus against CAA.
In February this year, following a protest near Holy Family Hospital, Zargar had been taken to the university health centre after she alleged two policemen suffocated her.
Zargar’s lawyer refused to divulge details of the case saying the matter was sub judice. “The only thing I can say is that she is being harassed and witch hunted on fabricated charges. Ms Zargar has full faith in due process of law and courts and is a law abiding citizen of India,” he said.
Zargar was the general secretary of the Congress-backed NSUI’s Jamia unit before it was dissolved in May 2018.
The JCC, to which she belonged, has so far not issued a statement. A JCC member said, “We are lying low right now because no one wants to be picked up next. We are in touch with Safoora’s lawyer.”
Following the riots that claimed 53 lives, a special investigation team (SIT) comprising 16 inspectors was formed to investigate the “larger conspiracy” and ascertain the alleged role of people in mobilising the crowd.
Since the lockdown was announced, four people so far have been arrested by the SIT, including Zargar, former Congress councillor Ishrat Jahan, activist Khalid Saifi and Jamia student and Chhatra Rashtriya Janata Dal member Meeran Haider.
Meanwhile, 26 civil rights activists and political leaders condemned the “arbitrary arrests” of the Jamia students, and alleged that the police was “abusing” its powers by arresting those critical of government policies under the “cover” of the lockdown. In a statement issued Monday by ‘Hum Bharat Ke Log’ — the umbrella platform to which the signatories belong — they said, “This is a time when the nation needs to be focussed on the health and hunger crisis across our land; when our priorities need to be to stay united to fight this virus. At a time when citizens in lockdown are unable to fully exercise their democratic rights, it is the moral duty of governments to guard against any abuse of power by the state.”
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