It’s been three weeks since Jamia Millia Islamia student Safoora Zargar (27), now in the second trimester of her pregnancy, was sent to Tihar Jail after being charged under the UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act) for her alleged role in the Northeast Delhi riots. Tuesday was the second time her husband has spoken to her since then.
In a conversation that lasted barely four minutes, during which the call dropped twice, Zargar mostly enquired about the health and well-being of her parents and in-laws.
Her husband, who did not want to be named, said he didn’t tell her about the trolling she has been receiving on Twitter, including tweets questioning her marital status vis-a-vis her pregnancy: “It’s not worth spending even a word and dignifying such remarks. It’s not surprising to me that some people are making such comments on social media.”
“When we spoke today, it was mostly about the food she’s getting and if her nausea is under control. She asked about our parents. It has been difficult because I haven’t seen her since April 13 and have only spoken to her twice. Even money orders and letters can’t go through as jail authorities are citing COVID restrictions,” he added.
Zargar had been arrested on April 13, with police claiming she was among those who organised an anti-CAA protest and road blockade under the Jafrabad Metro station in Delhi on February 22-23. At the time of her arrest, Zargar was 13 weeks pregnant.
Zargar’s counsel had recently sought bail and told the Delhi court that she has been falsely implicated and was not named in the FIR. However, it was rejected.
The court was also told she is three-months pregnant, and in view of the proviso of Section 437 of CrPC, she may be released on bail. It was further argued that in another FIR, pertaining to a similar offence, she has already been released on bail.
While the situation has Zargar’s family worried — her sister even wrote an open letter saying the arrest during lockdown and inability to contact felt like “slow death” — they believe she will come out of this due to her strength and courage.
Zargar’s peers and teachers also say she is “outspoken”, and a bright student. “She’s one of the strongest voices in the JCC (Jamia Coordination Committee) and very caring and helpful too,” said a JCC member.
One of her teachers said, “Safoora is a budding scholar. I am pained to see derogatory remarks on social media with regard to her pregnancy. It’s a reflection on our society… It is not a question of Muslim women or Hindu women; it’s about respecting womanhood and dignity of women.”
“We are worried about her health, particularly more so in this pandemic. Her bail plea should be considered with empathy on medical grounds,” she added.
Delhi Prisons DG Sandeep Goel said Zargar was doing “fine”. “There is a doctor on the premises. Her reports are normal. If the doctor suggests any dietary changes, we will make those. It is also the month of Ramzan, and all those who fast are provided meals accordingly, including khajoor and fruits.” He said that since she is an undertrial prisoner, she is not expected to work inside the premises.
Her husband said: “We believe in democracy and freedom of speech so one could never have imagined something like this would happen… We have to have faith in the judiciary. We hope we won’t be denied justice and that it comes sooner rather than later.”