A court in Delhi on Thursday rejected the bail pleas of Pinjra Tod members Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal, who have been booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in connection with the large scale communal violence that broke out in the Capital in February last year.
Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat, who passed the orders, said the allegations against both of them prima facie seemed to be true, adding that provisions of anti-terror law have been rightly invoked against the two.
In Kalita’s case, the judge said she was part of a “multilayered conspiracy”, according to Live Law.
“The entire conspiracy beginning from December 2019 of intentionally blocking roads to cause inconvenience and causing disrupting of supplies of services essential to the life of community of India resulting in violence with various means and then leading to the February incident with the focus being targeted blocking of roads at mixed population areas and creating panic and attack on police personnel with facade of women protesters in front and leading to riots would be covered by the definition of terrorist act,” the court’s order on Narwal’s bail plea, accessed by Scroll.in, said.
Rawat said that there was sufficient incriminating evidence against Narwal. “...there are reasonable grounds for believing that the accusations against the accused Natasha Narwal are prima facie true, hence, embargo created by Section 43D of the UAPA applies for grant of bail.. hence the present application for bail of accused Natasha Narwal is dismissed.”
During the Thursday’s hearing, advocate Adit S Pujari, appearing for Narwal, had questioned why the accused, being a Hindu, would organise violence and riots by instigating Muslims against her own community, reported PTI. The Special Public Prosecutor Amit Prasad, for the Delhi Police, opposed the bail plea claiming that Narwal had allegedly conspired with others to gather women protestors from Jahangirpuri, who resorted to violence.
The judge said citizens have the right and freedom to protest including the right to oppose any legislation, but it is subject to reasonable restrictions.
Kalita and Narwal were arrested on May 23 in connection with a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act in North East Delhi’s Jaffrabad area in February. A day later, they were granted bail in the matter by a court in Delhi. Immediately after the court’s order, the Delhi Police moved an application to interrogate the two activists and arrested them in a separate case related to the violence.
Clashes had broken out between supporters of the Citizenship Amendment Act and those opposing it between February 23 and 26 in North East Delhi, killing at least 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.
The Delhi Police claim that the violence was part of a larger conspiracy to defame Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government and was planned by those who organised the protests against the amended Citizenship Amendment Act. They also claimed the protestors had secessionist motives and were using “the facade of civil disobedience” to destabilise the government. The police have arrested several activists and students based on these “conspiracy” charges.