Who is Natasha Narwal?
Natasha Narwal is a Pinjra Tod activist and student of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). Pinjra Tod is best known for leading the struggle of women students in Delhi and other parts of India for better hostel conditions. She was also participating in anti-CAA protests and mobilizing people to protest against the discriminatory law. The women’s rights collective was accused of organizing the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act at Jafrabad metro station in New Delhi in February. A group of around 500 women had protested against the newly amended law at the metro station. The protest was further fanned, leading to an outbreak of full-fledged communal violence targeting the Muslims of North Delhi. At least 53 people, a majority of them Muslims, lost their lives in the deadly violence. She was arrested on 23 May last year for her alleged role in the Jaffarabad demonstration against CAA. However, bail was granted the very next day itself. But minutes later, the Crime Branch SIT arrested Natasha on charges of murder, rioting, and criminal conspiracy. Then on 29 May 2020, UAPA was imposed on Natasha. In this law, bail is very difficult. This time Natasha was arrested under FIR 59 of the Delhi riots. Under this FIR, the police also arrested Safoora Jargar.
Natasha is lodged in Tihar Jail for the last year. But recently after her father passed away due to Covid-19, she was granted 3-week interim bail. The Delhi high court stated that “In view of the circumstances elaborated here, and in the interest of justice, we are of the view that the release of the applicant is imperative in this hour of grief and personal loss and in the facts and circumstances of the case” The Delhi police did not resist the bail plea. However, Natasha has been directed to furnish a personal bond in the sum of ₹50,000 to the satisfaction of the jail superintendent and her phone number to the SHO special cell of the Delhi Police and the Rohtak Police, under whose jurisdiction the last rites of Mahavir Narwal are to be performed. Also, Natasha Narwal was also asked not to “tweet anything” and to maintain radio silence for the duration of her interim relief.
What is UAPA?
Earlier, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act used as a law to take action against the terrorist organization but with the amendment to Section 35, the Government can now categorize individuals as terrorists, if it believes that the individual is involved in terrorism. It also empowers more officers of the National Investigation Agency to probe cases. A person charged under the Act can be jailed for up to seven years. According to the National Crime Bureau Record (NCRB) a 165% rise in the number of UAPA cases since 2016. 35 cases were registered under UAPA in 2016, but in 2019, 1,226 UAPA cases were filed, a 33% increase from 2016. She is not the only one who was arrested under this draconian law but many students, activists have been arrested so far.
Meeran Haider, a PhD student at the Jamia Millia Islamia University, Asif Iqbal Tanha, a third-year undergraduate Persian language student at the Jamia Millia Islamia University, Shifa Ur Rehman, president of the Jamia Millia Islamia Alumni Association, Jawaharlal Nehru University student activist Umar Khalid, Devangana Kalita, Sharjeel Imam a research scholar at JNU, Siddique Kappan, the Delhi correspondent for the Azhimukham news portal, Khalid Saifi, Akhil Gogoi and many more eminent names were arrested so far.
In the case of Natasha, his father Mahavir Narwal supports her. He also said in one of his interviews, “I hope she’s not in jail so long she doesn’t see my face”.
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