Student activists Natasha Narwal, Devangana Kalita, Asif Iqbal Tanha released from Tihar Jail

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    After spending nearly a year in jail, Pinjra Tod activists Natasha Narwal, Devangana Kalita and Jamia student Asif Iqbal Tanha were released on bail from the high-security Tihar Jail late on Thursday.

    They were released after getting bail in the northeast Delhi pogrom case. Soon after walking out of the jail, they vowed to continue their struggle. The release of the trio, who were arrested in May last year under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), came after a lower court order.

    After release from jail on bail, Kalita lashed out at the government and said it’s trying to suppress dissent, the voice of people, reported news agency PTI.

    “We have received tremendous support inside jail; will continue our struggle,” PTI quoted Narwal as saying.

    Tanha also echoed Narwal’s words as he said the fight against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) will continue. “Kept hope that I will be released one day; fight against CAA, NRC, NPR will continue,” PTI quoted him as saying.

    The student activists were accused of being the “masterminds” of the February Delhi pogrom in 2020. The violence caused 53 deaths and injured 200.

    Narwal, whose father recently died of Covid when she was in jail, is a JNU student as is Kalita. Both of them are associated with Pinjra Tod, a collective of women students of and alumni from colleges and universities across Delhi fighting for women’s rights.

    Tanha is a member of the Students’ Islamic Organisation of India and student graduating in a Persian programme from Jamia Milia Islamia. While demanding the release of other prisoners, he also appealed to the government to address the COVID conditions in prison.

    The Delhi Police had claimed that the violence in North-East Delhi was a part of a larger conspiracy to defame PM Modi’s Government which was happening in the facade of protest and civil disobedience.

    However, the high court, while granting them bail on June 15, had asserted that “in an anxiety to suppress dissent, the state has blurred the line between right to protest and terrorist activity” and if such a mindset gains traction, it would be a “sad day for democracy”. Narwal thanked the Delhi High Court for the verdict. “Any such protest that we have done is not terrorism,” she added. “It was a democratic protest, led by women. They can only threaten us. They can threaten to incarcerate us, but that only strengthens our resolve to carry on our fight.”

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