Indian court orders release of Delhi activists

(L to R) Asif Iqbal Tanha, Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita.

New Delhi, June 17 (KMS): In India, a Delhi court has ordered the immediate release of student-activists Natasha Narwal, Devangana Kalita and Asif Iqbal Tanha.

The three student-activists Natasha Narwal, Devangana Kalita and Asif Iqbal Tanha were arrested by Delhi Police in May 2020 over alleged links to the riots that erupted amid tension over the Modi government new citizenship law. They remained in jail despite the High Court granting them bail on Tuesday.

The Additional Sessions Judge Ravinder Bedi, who dismissed yesterday’s petition by the Delhi Police asking for three more days to complete verification of addresses and sureties, noted that the High Court had already passed the bail order and that release warrants had been sent to Tihar Jail.

Hours before today’s release order the three activists had approached the High Court. “The continuing custody despite clear mandate of law, beyond 24 hours since direction to verify sureties, is illegal. Direct the authorities to release us forthwith,” the three said in their plea.

In a brief hearing a displeased High Court questioned the delays – it demanded to know why verification of Aadhaar numbers was needed and if the police was, in fact, following due process.

The court had said it would hear the activists’ plea at 3.30 pm, after the trial court ruled on yesterday’s bitter back-and-forth between Delhi Police and the activists’ lawyer. The High Court on Tuesday had highlighted the distinction between the “right to protest” and terrorist activity as it permitted the activists’ bail.

All three were released on personal bonds of Rs 50,000 each and two sureties of a similar amount.

Ms Narwal and Ms Kalita are JNU students associated with Pinjra Tod – a collective of women students of and alumni from colleges and universities across Delhi, who fight for women’s rights. Mr Tanha is a student from Jamia Millia Islamia. All three were arrested in May last over alleged links to riots in Delhi in February last year that followed widespread protests against controversial amendments to the citizenship law. Over 50 people died and around 200 were injured in the violence that followed.

%d bloggers like this: