NEW DELHI — After the Delhi High Court on Tuesday granted bail to a pregnant PhD student and anti-CAA activist, Safoora Zargar, charged with UAPA (Anti-terror law) in the Delhi violence case, her family and friends and justice-loving people felt relieved even as many were surprised over the government’s change of heart.
The state, which was hell bent on keeping her behind bars, submitted in the court that Zargar should be granted bail on “humanitarian grounds”. Only a day ago the solicitor general Tushar Mehta had told the court that pregnancy was no ground for granting bail.
Her family welcomed the court order as her bail application had been rejected thrice since April when she was arrested and lodged in Delhi’s Tihar Jail.
“It is such a relief to us all. Safoora has been through a lot. She is expecting, as you know, and was lodged in the jail during this pandemic, doubling our worry. Thanks to God Almighty, she can finally come home and rest,” her husband was quoted in the media as saying.
The court while granting bail ordered her to furnish a personal bond of Rs 10,000 and laid a few conditions in the bail: She has to remain within the jurisdiction of Delhi and seek court’s permission if she needs to move out; she has to get in touch with the investigation officer via phone, once in fifteen days; She can not indulge in activities she is being investigated for.
The court asserted that her grounds for bail should not be treated as precedent in other cases. The police accuse her of hatching a conspiracy that caused the outbreak of violence in Delhi in late February in which over 50 people were killed, most of them Muslims.
Zargar’s lawyers and activists say she was being punished for her activism over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and NRC. Her incarceration was condemned by human rights groups globally as they urged India to release her. These included Amnesty International, FIDH, the American Bar Association, USCIRF.
Legal experts say that the decision from the government to release Zargar may be strategic. Abhik Chimni, a lawyer, wrote on Twitter that the government has conceded to avoid legal precedent for trial courts to decide on similar matters.
(1) State has strategically in this particular case conceded to avoid legal precedent.
(2) Without legal precedent flowing from High courts. The Trial courts will more or less continue the trend of not granting bail in the riot cases. https://t.co/alybagZqQV
— Abhik chimni (@abhik_chimni) June 23, 2020
Students and activists hoped that other anti-CAA activists held in the same case would also be released. Umar Khalid, a prominent student activist said “the struggle for release of students and activists framed in false cases shall continue.”
The CAA triggered a wave of peaceful protests across India. Muslim women took to streets and began indefinite sit-ins at various places across the country asking the government to revoke the “discriminatory” law which went against the secular and democratic spirit of the constitution of the country.
Irked by the protests, senior leaders and ministers from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), in their speeches, exhorted their supporters to shoot the protesters! “Goli maaro salon ko” became the war cry of the mobs supporting the ruling party. This eventually led to an outbreak of violence in parts of Delhi.
However, police arrested a number of students and activists who were part of the anti-CAA protests accusing them of instigating violence and framed them under UAPA during lockdown imposed to curb the spread of Coronavirus.
The detainees include student activists, protest coordinators including Safoora Zargar, Meeran Haider, Shafi ur Rehman, Asif Tanha and ordinary youths from the Muslim community.