Published: 16th June 2021
JNU students arrested in connection with Delhi riots to walk out of jail after a year
According to official sources, the Delhi Police is likely to file an appeal in the Supreme Court against a Delhi High Court order granting them bail on Tuesday
JNU students and Pinjra Tod members Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita, and Jamia Millia Islamia student Asif Iqbal Tanha will finally walk out of jail after over a year following their arrest under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in connection with a case related to the northeast Delhi riots.
According to official sources, the Delhi Police is likely to file an appeal in the Supreme Court against a Delhi High Court order granting them bail on Tuesday. All three of them were arrested in May last year in connection with the case related to large conspiracy in the riots which broke out in February last year.
All three of them were booked in FIR no.59/2020 dated March 3 which was registered initially under sections 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code at Crime Branch Police Station. Later, sections 109 (punishment of abetment if the act abetted is committed in consequence and where no express provision is made for its punishment), 114 (abettor present when offence is committed), 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder) and other relevant sections of the IPC, Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act 1984, Arms Act 1967 and UAPA were subsequently added in the FIR.
Narwal, who is a student pursuing MPhil-PhD programme in the Centre of Women's Historical Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, and Devangana Kalita, who is pursuing MPhil-PhD programme in the Department of Women's Studies at JNU, were taken in police custody in May 29, 2020 in the said FIR. Narwal and Kalita were arrested for allegedly being a part of a premeditated conspiracy behind the communal violence that broke out in northeast Delhi in February that year during protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA).
Narwal was also arrested in two other FIRs registered at Jafrabad Police Station in connection with the northeast Delhi riots, while Kalita was one of the accused in three other FIRs. The two of them have already got bails in the other cases. They were first arrested by the Delhi Police on May 23, 2020. However, both of them were arrested in the UAPA related case on May 29, 2020 when they were in judicial custody in Tihar jail.
This arrest in the UAPA related case was almost three months after the registration of the case. Iqbal Tanha, a 25-year-old student, pursuing his final year of BA (Hons) Persian programme at the Jamia Milia Islamia University was arrested in the same UAPA case on May 19 last year which was being probed by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police. At the time of his arrest in the case, Tanha was already in judicial custody in a different case registered in December, 2019 at Jamia Nagar Police Station in connection with protests held in Delhi in 2019 against the CAA and NRC. However, he got bail in the said case.
Communal clashes had broken out in northeast Delhi on February 24 last year after violence between citizenship law supporters and protesters spiralled out of control, leaving at least 53 people dead and around 200 injured. Tanha had challenged a trial court's October 26, 2020 order dismissing his bail application on grounds that he allegedly played an active role in the entire conspiracy with reasonable grounds for believing the allegations to be prima facie true. Narwal and Kalita had challenged the trial court's January 28 order that dismissed their bail pleas, saying the allegations against them were prima facie true and provisions of anti-terror law were rightly invoked in the present case.