Updated: June 16, 2021 10:10:32 am
Families of student activists Devangana Kalita, Natasha Narwal and Asif Iqbal Tanha Tuesday told The Indian Express that they were “relieved” about the Delhi High Court’s decision to grant them bail, and said the order was a “victory of democracy”.
Pinjra Tod activists Kalita and Narwal, and Students’ Islamic Organisation activist Tanha have been incarcerated for their alleged role in the Delhi riots last year.
“We are of course very happy, but I couldn’t believe it has happened. We had prepared for the long haul and we had prepared Devangana also for the same. We had heard that under UAPA, bail is an exception. When we got to know about the bail we were very excited, but also there was some disbelief that it has actually happened,” Devangana’s mother Kalpana Kalita told The Indian Express over phone from Assam.
“To me, this bail order is a victory of democracy. From the beginning we have said that we have faith in the Indian judiciary, although it is very slow. But we had faith that Devangana, Natasha and all other political prisoners will be released, and I still continue to hold that belief,” she said.
Kalita said that while Devangana may find it difficult to travel post release, “we will definitely go to Delhi” when the Covid situation stabilises. She also remembered Natasha’s father Mahavir Narwal who died of Covid on May 9. “His absence pains us. He was a strong man. Whenever we felt distressed we would call him and we would get our strength back. If he was alive today, he would have been the happiest person.”
Natasha’s brother Aakash Narwal welcomed the “powerful” bail order: “It came as a big sense of relief. Everyone in the house was in the mood for celebration, but is controlling their emotions till the time she actually arrives here. However, it wasn’t just happiness all around, sorrow also crept in. I can’t help but think every minute how happy my father would have been if he heard the news about her bail. I really wish he could have met her.”
“That being said, I am really hopeful after seeing such a powerful bail order. It gave me faith in the judicial system and restored my respect in the High Court,” added Narwal.
Tanha’s mother Jahan Ara said she had been left “overwhelmed”. “I spoke to him (Tanha) for two minutes in the morning. He just said, Ammi, I have got bail. We didn’t have much time to talk. We are just overwhelmed with happiness. Our child has been implicated in a false case. I knew that he’s innocent, so he would definitely come to me soon. His exams are on till June 26, but after that, if possible, we will bring him here,” she said over the phone from Jharkhand.
“Two Eids have passed since his arrest, we didn’t cook anything nice. Jis din mera bachcha ghar aayega, us hi din hum sab bana ke khayenge (The day my child comes home, that day only I will cook everything and eat),” she said.
Jamia Millia Islamia student Safoora Zargar, also accused in the case and who received bail on humanitarian grounds last year as she was pregnant, tweeted that Tuesday’s bail was “one of the happiest days of my life”.
She told The Indian Express: “For a whole year I have felt like a lone survivor of a car crash. There have been feelings of guilt — for not doing enough for my friends who remained locked up. Every laugh, every good meal, every moment spent with loved ones, however thankful, felt selfish. So I welcome back my friends with arms wide open and hope others get to see the light at the end of this tunnel as well. Every second our unlawfully incarcerated friends spend locked up is a grave injustice. Whether it is the concocted fictionalised case of Delhi riots conspiracy or of the Bhima Koregaon case, all amount to grave human right violations.”
“I thank the Honourable High Court for reiterating that dissent is not terrorism and protest is not a conspiracy. The need of the hour is for the civil society to mainstream this. It is shocking that in the world’s largest democracy, students and activists are being hounded, harassed, punished and criminalised for merely criticising the government and its policies and we have to wait for courts to reiterate it again and again. What is the point of a democracy without criticism and dissent?” she said.
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