Jailed activist Natasha Narwal on Monday got interim bail for three weeks from the Delhi High Court, in order to perform her father’s last rites, reported Live Law. Narwal had applied for bail to see her ailing father, who died on Sunday after contracting the coronavirus.
Natasha Narwal, an activist of women’s rights group Pinjra Tod and a student of the Jawaharlal Nehru University, has been in jail since being charged under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act in May last year, for her alleged role in inciting the large-scale communal violence in Delhi in February. Another activist, Devangana Kalita, was also arrested along with her.
Narwal’s father Mahavir Narwal had been admitted to a hospital in Rohtak in Haryana.
“Mahavir Narwal campaigned hard to prove the innocence of Natasha who was incarcerated for her peaceful participation in the protest against the CAB [Citizenship Amendment Bill],” Pinjra Tod said in a statement released on Sunday. “...He himself had been imprisoned for his participation in protests during the Emergency.”
The group also criticised authorities as Natasha Narwal was unable to meet her father. The statement questioned: “How does the State compensate people for these losses?”
In an interview after Natasha Narwal was jailed, Mahavir Narwal asserted it was important to defend human rights.
“Jail is nothing to be feared of,” he said. “What is there to be scared of? She [Natasha Narwal] will manage...It’s a matter of right of individuals, which can only be defended through dissent. There is no other way to defend human rights. You should be worried about a future in which dissent is not your right anymore.”
Mahavir Narwal, a member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), was also associated with the People’s Science Movement and Gyab-Vigyan Andolan, initiatives to encourage rational thinking and scientific temperament. He was a former senior scientist of Chaudhary Charan Singh Haryana Agricultural University in Hisar district.
The CPI(M) also expressed grief about Mahavir Narwal’s death. “It is [a] criminal act of the Modi government that his daughter Natasha Narwal was arrested under UAPA last year and [she] couldn’t even meet her father,” the party tweeted.
Clashes had broken out between supporters of the Citizenship Amendment Act and those opposing it between February 23 and 26 last year 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 in Delhi since the anti-Sikh riots of 1984.