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Delhi riots: Student activists Natasha Narwal, Devangana Kalita, Asif Iqbal Tanha released from prison on bail

Pinjra Tod activists Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita, and Students’ Islamic Organisation activist Asif Iqbal Tanha had been booked under the UAPA anti-terror law for their alleged role in the Delhi riots last year.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: June 17, 2021 9:14:20 pm

Two days after being granted bail, Pinjra Tod activists Natasha Narwal, Devangana Kalita and Students’ Islamic Organisation activist Asif Iqbal Tanha walked out of Tihar prison in Delhi on Thursday, following a court’s order asking for their immediate release in a case related to the Delhi riots 2020.

They were in jail despite the bail order by the Delhi High Court. Following this, the Delhi court ordered their immediate release earlier today.

Director General (Delhi Prisons) Sandeep Goel confirmed to news agency PTI that all three have been released. A senior jail official said Kalita and Narwal walked out of jail around 7 pm and Tanha around 7.30 pm.

Student activist Natasha Narwal hugs Devangana Kalita outside Tihar prison, after a court ordered their immediate release in the north-east Delhi riots “conspiracy” case, in New Delhi, Thursday, June 17, 2021. They along with Asif Iqbal Tanha were arrested in May last year under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). (PTI Photo/Kamal Singh)

After being released, Tanha said, “Kept hope that I will be released one day; fight against CAA, NRC, NPR will continue.”

The Supreme Court on Friday will hear an appeal filed by the Delhi Police challenging the bail.

Student activists Narwal, Kalita, and Tanha had been booked under the UAPA anti-terror law for their alleged role in the Delhi riots last year.

Additional Sessions Judge Ravinder Bedi issued the release warrants at 11 am. At the same time, the lawyers for the three applicants argued before the Delhi High Court for their immediate release. The Delhi High Court had observed that the trial court must expedite the proceedings following which it adjourned the matter.

In the order, Bedi wrote: “From the circumstances forwarded by the IO, I observe that atleast the verification process qua sureties must have been filed by 1:00 pm yesterday all sureties are residents of Delhi. Apropos the the reason forwarded by the IO that verification qua accused’s permanent address would need time. I would say this by itself cannot be a plausible reason for the accused to be kept imprisoned till the time such reports are filed.”

Student activists Natasha Narwal, and Devangana Kalita outside Tihar prison, after a court ordered their immediate release in the north-east Delhi riots “conspiracy” case, in New Delhi, Thursday, June 17, 2021. (PTI Photo/Kamal Singh)

The court also said that since the verification process will require some time, the report on this would be filed by the IO on or before June 23 at 2:30 pm with the concerned court.

The court directed the police to verify the address of the accused and submit it at 5 pm on Thursday.

On Wednesday, Bedi had deferred the passing of order on the immediate release citing a “heavy board of bail applications” listed before it. The three accused persons had then approached the HC seeking immediate release.


Senior advocate Siddharth Aggarwal, who appeared on behalf of Tanha, said, “Once an order of bail is passed, it can’t be obstructed for administrative or ministerial reasons. I can be released and they can go ahead with verification. If it is an issue of verification, I am an accused and they surely know where I stay. My address forms a part of their chargesheet…if it found that there is some problem, I will be back in custody.”

To this, Justice Mridul said, “At the highest we can only express that the proceedings before the HC must be conducted expeditiously.”

Aggarwal told the HC that “by not taking a decision on the application, the trial court has taken a view”.

Advocate Adit Pujari, appearing on behalf Narwal and Kalita, said, “What the Delhi Police has done is that they have very cleverly verified one surety for each appellant and said that there is an error regarding the second surety. The deficiencies are that they did not record the statements of the sureties or neighbours and these were pointed out when they came to our sureties’ houses.”

“Obviously we expect the trial court to expedite the proceedings…This has to be done at a reasonable time. This cannot be an open process,” Justice Mridul said.


Special Public Prosecutor Amit Prasad told the HC that imputations are being passed on the state, however, they were only following orders of the court.

Prasad had told the HC: “The bail bond was given at 4:10 (pm) the Special Cell got it at 5.30. We were expected to file the report by 1 pm (next day). All the verification had to be done by one day…during verification certain glaring facts have come. We are not obstructing the release. We don’t have magical powers to verify from Assam and Jharkhand, addresses have certain glaring discrepancies.

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With inputs from Anand Mohan J, PTI

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First published on: 17-06-2021 at 12:55:37 pm

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