New Delhi: Days after Pinjra Tod founding member and Jawaharlal Nehru University student Devangana Kalita was granted bail in a case, the Delhi police charged her with the non-bailable Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
The police have filed a fourth FIR against her under the stringent anti-terror law in connection with her presence in the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests and subsequent communal riots in north-east Delhi.
The FIR also names former JNU student Umar Khalid, Congress activist Ishrat Jahan, United Against Hate member Khalid Saifi, and students like Safoora Zargar, Gulfisha and Natasha Narwal among others. Most of them have already been arrested and have been languishing in jail, even as the Delhi police continues to add new and sterner charges against them.
Another Pinjra Tod activist and JNU student, Natasha Narwal, is already facing UAPA charges in similar cases. Speaking to The Hindu, a Delhi police official said that Kalita has been charged with the terror law for her alleged role in hatching a conspiracy to incite riots in north-east Delhi.
“She has also been charged under various sections related to sedition, attempt to murder, murder, criminal conspiracy, promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth etc, said the police,” the daily reported.
Both Kalita and Narwal are currently under judicial custody in another case related to the Delhi riots. On May 28, immediately after the court granted them bail, the Delhi police filed another case and had them arrested again. Since then, the crime branch has registered two more cases against them.
Interestingly, while granting bail to Kalita in another case related to the Daryaganj violence in December during an anti-CAA protest, the metropolitan magistrate had pulled up the Delhi police for having failed to produce any direct and credible evidence against her to prove the charges.
Pinjra Tod, a women’s movement which first started as a protest against illegal curfew hours in college hostels and girls-only private PG accommodations in Delhi a few years ago, viewed the arrests and the stern charges against their founding members as gratuitous – an attack on students’ and democratic voices.
“This is the fourth FIR hoisted on Devangana after her arrest, with each new FIR putting ever severe charges,” the organisation said in a statement.
“After the denial of bail to Safoora Zargar yesterday, this move by the state makes it clear that student activists are being incarcerated and piled with draconian laws for their participation in peaceful protests and solidarity with social movements defending Constitutional rights and posing a challenge to divisive policies being pursued by the present regime,” it said.
The organization demanded that all charges against the student activists and other anti-CAA protestors should immediately be withdrawn and “the real culprits of the Delhi pogrom” be probed and punished.
Condemning the Delhi police, it added, “The use of conspiracy to falsely frame protesters despite repeated remarks by courts on the inadequacy of evidence is extremely worrying. This not only reveals the vulnerability of everyone expressing any opinion contrary to the state but also undermines the very spirit of a democratic political system.”