A court in Delhi on Saturday granted bail to student activist Gulfisha Fatima, who was arrested in connection with the violence that broke out in North East Delhi in February.
Fatima, however, will continue to remain in jail as she is under custody in another first information report (59/2020) filed against her under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in what is known as the Delhi riots conspiracy case. She is currently lodged in Delhi’s Tihar jail.
Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat gave relief to Fatima on providing a bail bond of Rs 30,000 with one surety of the same amount in the case related to rioting in Jafrabad. One person had died of gunshot injuries in the incident.
“The co-accused Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal have been granted bail in this case and their role is stated to be similar to the present applicant/accused [Fatima],” the court said. “The witnesses for all of them are almost the same.” The court added that there was no proof to establish that the witnesses were under threat due to Fatima’s release.
Kalita was granted bail in the case on September 1, and Narwal was given relief on September 17.
The local court also noted that two public witnesses are protected and their identity was hidden, adding that the remaining are police officers, reported The Indian Express. Co-accused Tafsil was declared a proclaimed offender, but Fatima cannot be refused bail for his action and conduct.
“The present stage is of bail and not acquittal or conviction,” the court added. “Nothing is shown to suggest that the applicant is a flight risk.”
During the hearing, Fatima’s counsel Mehmood Pracha said she was falsely and maliciously implicated in the current case without any proof. He also claimed that no involvement has been attributed to her apart from vague and unsubstantiated claims that have no connection with the alleged crime.
Special Public Prosecutor Rajeev Krishan Sharma, representing the police, opposed the bail application, saying that Fatima had allegedly conspired in the matter, and constantly provoked the local residents since December 2019. He noted that this was done under the guise of protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, National Register of Citizens, and the National Population Register.
In September, Fatima said that she was subjected to communal slurs and mental harassment in prison. On April 9, Fatima was arrested for participating in the Jaffrabad protest, and charged under first information report 48/2020 under multiple sections of the Indian Penal Code. She was granted bail under this particular FIR on May 13.
In its over 17,000-page chargesheet, the police had listed 747 witnesses and of them, 51 have recorded their statements before the magistrate. The Delhi Police Special Cell has claimed that suspended Aam Aadmi Party councillor Tahir Hussain, former Jawaharlal Nehru University student Umar Khalid and Khalid Saifi planned to carry out “massive violence” in the national Capital.
Clashes had broken out between the supporters of the Citizenship Amendment Act and those opposing it between February 23 and 26 in North East Delhi, killing 53 people and injuring hundreds. The police were accused of either inaction or complicity in some instances of violence, mostly in Muslim neighbourhoods. The violence was the worst Delhi saw since the anti-Sikh riots of 1984.