The court grants bail to Devangana Kalita, Natasha Narwal and Asif Iqbal Tanha, who were arrested under a strict anti-terrorism law.
An Indian court has granted bail to three young activists arrested under a strict anti-terrorism law in connection with the deadly anti-Muslim riots that erupted in the capital New Delhi last year.
The bail they were granted on Tuesday concerns a case in which police alleged they were part of a “larger plot” in the violence in Delhi that followed protests against a controversial citizenship law passed by the government. government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2019.
Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal, members of a feminist collective, and university student Asif Iqbal Tanha were arrested in May last year under the Illegal Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
First introduced in 1967 as an “anti-terrorism law”, the UAPA allows the detention of an accused for up to 180 days without charge.
The law has been toughened in recent years after a number of amendments gave broad powers to law enforcement, sparking outrage from rights groups and international organizations.
“Anxiety to quell dissent”
In its order granting bail to the three activists, the Delhi High Court said the government should be careful of “the line between the constitutionally guaranteed right to protest and terrorist activity”.
“It seems that in its concern to suppress dissent, in the mind of the state, the line between the constitutionally guaranteed right to protest and terrorist activity seems to be blurring somewhat,” the court said, according to Indian media.
“If this mindset gains ground, it would be a sad day for democracy.”
Surety for Devangana, Natasha & Asif in the UAPA case. ✊🏽✊🏽
One of the happiest days of my life. Let more follow. May justice prevail.
-Safoora Zargar (@SafooraZargar) June 15, 2021
The three activists were among dozens of arrests for protesting the Citizenship Amendment Act, which accelerates the Indian naturalization of religious minorities – Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians – from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, but makes no reference to Muslims. .
The passage of the law, which the United Nations has called “fundamentally discriminatory”, saw tens of thousands of Indians take to the streets, with a sit-in organized by women in a predominantly Muslim neighborhood in New York. Delhi which has become the epicenter of the protests.
It was during anti-CAA protests that violence erupted in Muslim neighborhoods in northeast Delhi in February last year. At least 53 people, mostly Muslims, have been killed and dozens of homes and mosques destroyed.
Human rights groups have accused Delhi police of inaction or complicity in the violence, the worst the capital has seen since the anti-Sikh riots of 1984.
During the police crackdown that followed the anti-Muslim riots, dozens of activists – many of them Muslims, including some victims of violence – were accused of instigating the riots and arrested under UAPA and d ‘Other expenses.
Kalita and Narwal are members of Pinjda Tod (Break the Cage), a feminist collective campaigning for more freedom and rights for women in university hostels across India.
Tanha is a student at Jamia Millia Islamia in New Delhi, a university founded by Muslims during India’s liberation movement against the British.
Last month Natasha Narwal, 32, lost his father Mahavir Narwal, retired professor and activist, to coronavirus. She was granted a three-week temporary bail to perform her father’s last rites.