The Delhi Police on Saturday arrested two members of Pinjra Tod, a women’s rights collective, in connection with the protests opposing the Citizenship Amendment Act in North East Delhi’s Jafrabad area in February, PTI reported.
A group of around 500 people, mostly women, protested outside the Jafrabad metro station against the amended law. On February 23, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Kapil Mishra held a rally in favour of the Citizenship Act. He had also given the Delhi Police a three-day ultimatum to clear the protests. A day later, communal violence engulfed North East Delhi, leaving at least 53 people dead and hundreds injured over the next three days.
According to the first information report, the arrested women have been identified as Natasha and Devangana. The women’s rights collective is accused of organising the protests at the Jafrabad metro station, India Today reported. The arrested members are scheduled to appear in court on Sunday.
Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita are students of Jawaharlal Nehru University and founding members of Pinjra Tod, The Indian Express reported. “An FIR regarding the Jafrabad sit-in protest had been registered earlier,” an unidentified police officer told the newspaper. “The women have been arrested under Indian Penal Code Sections 186 [obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions] and 353 [assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty].”
They were arrested from their homes around 6 pm on Saturday, Pinjra Tod said in a post on Facebook. “The police did not give reasons to their family members for their arrest,” it added. “Many students and activists have been arrested by the Delhi Police in the last couple of months. We strongly condemn this hounding of democratic activists and students being carried out by the state and appeal to the student community and all democratic minded citizens to remain vigilant and strong in our struggles in face of this repression.”
The police made more than 800 arrests by April 13 in connection with the North East Delhi violence, according to The Indian Express. An unidentified official was quoted as saying that the Union home ministry “insisted that police must continue making arrests under any circumstances”.
Scroll.in examined a few cases closely to find a troubling pattern: often victims of the violence were being prosecuted by the police. Many lawyers and activists say the lockdown to contain the coronavirus spread has reduced scrutiny of the police investigation and impaired access to justice for those arrested.