SIO welcomes Delhi HC’s decision to grant bail to its member Asif Tanha, JNU leaders Natasha and Devangana

Students Islamic Organisation of India (SIO) today welcomed the Delhi High Court’s decision to grant bail to its member and Jamia Millia Islamia student Asif Iqbal Tanha, Pinjra Tod activists and Jawaharlal Nehru University students Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita in the northeast Delhi violence conspiracy case.

“The trio, alongwith others, were unjustly put behind bars over a year ago on false charges in an attempt to suppress the young leadership of anti-CAA movement and shift blame for the Delhi pogrom,” Mohammad Salman Ahmad, national president of SIO said in an official note.

While granting bail to Tanha, the court said that though Tanha is stated to be a member of the SIO and the Jamia Coordination Committee (JCC), “admittedly neither of them were banned organisations or terrorist organisations listed in the First Schedule to the UAPA.”

“We are glad that the honourable court called out the hollowness of the bogus conspiracy charges against young activists. We hope that this verdict will serve as a precedent in curbing the long and unjust incarceration of innocent persons under draconian laws” read Salman Ahmad’s statement.

Asif, an active leader of the Jamia campus unit of SIO, has been a prominent figure in the anti-CAA protest that erupted last winter.

Asif Iqbal Tanha, Natasha Narwal, Devangana Kalita were at the forefront of the nationwide anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) movement that shed light on India’s new discriminatory policies.

“In its anxiety to suppress dissent, in the mind of the State, the line between constitutionally guaranteed right to protest and terrorist activity seems to be getting somewhat blurred. If this mindset gains traction, it would be a sad day for democracy,” Delhi High Court observed during the hearing.

FIR 59/2020 investigates the conspiracy behind 2020 Delhi pogrom which took at least 54 lives. The investigation is harshly criticised as a guise to stifle dissent.

Safoora Zargar, Meeran Haider, Sharjeel Imam, Khalid Saifi, Umar Khalid and Gulfisha Fatima are among the 15 booked under UAPA in FIR59. The 17000 page primary charge-sheet and the two supplementary charge-sheets name dozens of activists and political leaders as instigators of violence but remain silent of the explicit truth of involvement of Hindu groups.

Advocate Siddharth Agarwal appeared on behalf of Tanha.

Bail is subject to personal bond of Rs 50,000 and two local sureties. conditions of bail includes all three surrendering their passports and not indulging in activities that would hamper the case.

Narwal and Kalita are research scholars at Jawaharlal Nehru University and has been under judicial custody for over a year. Narwal recently lost her father due to COVID-19.