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Thursday, July 29, 2021

‘Thought we would never get out…faced social trial’: Natasha, Devangana, Asif walk out of jail

Around 7.15 pm, when Natasha and Devangana were released, friends cheered outside the jail, shouting 'laal salaam'. Asif, who was on interim bail to write exams, was later brought back to Tihar Jail 4 and released.

Written by Jignasa Sinha | New Delhi |
Updated: June 17, 2021 9:46:23 pm

As student activists Natasha Narwal, Devangana Kalita and Asif Iqbal Tanha, booked under the UAPA anti-terror law in a Northeast Delhi riots case, finally walked out of prison on bail, family members and friends gathered outside Tihar Jail with posters saying “release political prisoners”.

Around 7.15 pm, when Natasha and Devangana were released, friends cheered outside the jail, shouting “laal salaam”. The two women hugged each other and cried.

Asif, who was on interim bail to write exams, was later brought back to Tihar Jail 4 and released.

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. (Photo: PTI)

Once he was released, his friends took him to meet Natasha and Devangana. His friends called his mother on video call, who said, “I am proud of you”.

Coming out of Tihar, Natasha said there were anxious moments before their release. “We were anxious, especially after the Delhi HC order and police delay. This was unexpected. I thought we weren’t going to get out. Today, they (jail officials) closed the entire women jail to let us out. We couldn’t meet other inmates. This has been tough.

Since our case was highlighted, we had to face a lot of harassment inside the jail. There was this social trial against us. The allegations against us were shocking… I miss my father, I wish he was here. We will continue to fight against wrong,” she said.

Natasha’s father had died last month and she was granted interim bail for his last rites. She returned to Tihar Jail on May 31.

Devangana, meanwhile, stepped out of jail for the first time since she was arrested last year.

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). (Photo: PTI)

“There was an anxious wait. We still feel someone will come and arrest us. I want to thank the Delhi High Court. The points raised by them about the right to dissent and protest are very important. This one year has been very tough. But we were lucky because we had each other,” she said.

Asif, meanwhile, said he was not bogged down by people calling him a “terrorist and jihadi” since he was in the right all along.

“People called me a terrorist, jihadi and other names but I didn’t mind because I didn’t do anything wrong. I will continue my fight against CAA and NRC. Our protests were peaceful. Though jail was tough, I knew we’ll be out one day. I thank the Delhi High Court for its judgement. I believe in the Constitution,” he said.

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