Six months have passed since Pinjra Tod activists Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita were jailed under UAPA for their alleged role in the Delhi riots, but their families, who met Thursday virtually during a public meeting organised by the collective, had only smiles to exchange. Determined to continue the “resistance”, they said they were inspired by their daughters.
Narwal’s father and brother and Devangana’s parents and brother also shared updates from the court.
Natasha’s father Mahavir Narwal told Kalita’s family that the case would conclude by November 26-27, as Kalita’s mother Kalpana responded saying, “That’s a nice message for us.”
Narwal said he had much to learn from his daughter. “She is in fact not feeling jailed, she is feeling she is like all other people. Those outside are also suffering, just like those in jails. Nobody in my family is demoralised or intimidated. We are all part of your resistance,” he said, adding that resistance was “not just to get them out of jail but to save all good ideas, truth”.
Kalita’s father Hemchandra Kalita also said both were in “very good spirits”.
“Sometime in late January, I was in Delhi. She was part of the agitation, but came home and stayed with me one night. I could sense that she’s actively involved in the cause. I told her to be careful, as this government is very vindictive… She said somebody has to speak because they want that people should not speak,” he said.
“This is not for Natasha and Devangana, but for the cause of democracy and the sake of the Constitution… Every minority should be protected but every minority is being arrested,” he said.
Ankita, a Pinjra Tod activist, shared updates from Narwal and Kalita’s jail stay.
“Devangana told us there may not be much difference between jails and hostels, except that jail authorities are a little more responsive than hostel ones. She also said she and Natasha have been playing with the children in the jail, Natasha more than her, and that she has now begun writing her MPhil thesis.
“They also had a reading of Sultana’s Dream (a feminist novel) in their barracks with the women and kids one night. They’ve also been doing Yoga regularly. Natasha is currently the head librarian, since the last we heard from them,” she said.
Kavita Srivastava from People’s Union for Civil Liberties, historian Uma Chakravarti, Dalit activist and artist Sambhaji Bhagat and journalist Pamela Philipose also spoke at the meeting.
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