Bail for students reinstate hope, say families of jailed activists

Photo: Meer Faisal

The bail granted to Jamia Millia Islamia student leader and SIO activist Asif Iqbal Tanha and Jawaharlal Nehru University research scholars and Pinjra Tod activists Natasha Narwal and Devangna Katilia by Delhi High Court after over a year of incarceration reinstate hope for family members of co-accused still languishing in jail.

Jailed under the charges of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, five out of eighteen are granted bail in the Delhi pogrom conspiracy case till now.

Four out of them were granted bail after the court observed there was no evidence against them. Safoora Zargar got humanitarian bail after the public prosecutor adamantly asked the court to not look at the merit of the case.

“After listening to this news we’re quite happy for these activists. This has given me and my family hope that Meeran will also be out of jail,” Shama Parveen, sister of jailed student leader Meeran Haider told Maktoob.

“They all are innocent and without any reason, this dictator government targeted these people and put them in jail. They didn’t commit any crime, it’s a human right to protest for your rights, for people’s rights and they did the same, they became the voice of India,” she adds.

Meeran Haider, PhD scholar at Jamia Millia Islamia and the state president of the RJD youth wing, was arrested by the Delhi police on April 2, 2020.

Parveen hope that through God’s blessings her brother will be out soon.

“For the last 7 years, since the BJP government has come to power they have slapped UAPA on whosoever has criticised their policies, their actions and called them out for their fascism. It was easy to fight against the Britishers for the independence of India, but to fight against BJP for the welfare of India is becoming difficult day by day,” Parveen told Maktoob.

“My trust in the judiciary has improved, that yes, not everyone is wrong, some people do believe in truth and stand up bravely with it,” says Nargis Saifi, wife of Khalid Saifi, another accused in FIR 59/2020.

She is “hopeful” but slams the efforts of Delhi police to revoke the bail.

“Since the day when the court ordered their release, the Delhi police were still trying to make unnecessary excuses and delay the process of bail. I will just say that this order by the Delhi High court has boosted our hopes and yes, some things had started to go blue but then our confidence in the constitution has increased,” she continued.

“Speak against the government, you’re slapped with UAPA”.

Saifi was detained on Feb 26 from the Khureji Khas anti-CAA protest site where he was actively involved. He was brutally beaten in police custody wherein he suffered fractured legs and broken fingers. later on he was implicated in conspiracy case.

“I talked to Khalid yesterday evening on the phone for merely 4 minutes. He read the morning newspaper and was happy with the decision of the Delhi High Court. You see, UAPA is this dark tunnel where it is second to impossible to come out of it, you’re stuck there for years without any reason or evidence,” says Nargis.

“Khalid had got bail in the first two cases that were registered against him, even the judge pointed out how both the cases seem to be rooted in revenge,” she told Maktoob.

The mother of two believes “if you speak against the Government, then you’re slapped with UAPA”.

Maktoob also talked to Noureen Fatima, wife of Shifa Ur Rehman, another Jamia associate jailed. Rehman is the president of the Alumni Association of Jamia Millia Islamia (AAJMI).

“I had goosebumps when I heard about their bails, my happiness knew no boundaries. My hopes have increased multiple times after hearing of their release. You see whenever someone gets a bail, they announce the names of the people in the building that have been released, so I was visualising the day when my husband’s name will also be announced and he will be out of jail. It has been a hellish time, my children were down with fever around April and I was so scared for them. Life has become way more difficult without Shifa,” she said.

Fatima went on to say: “Natasha lost her father when she was still in jail, her father couldn’t spend the last moments of his life with her. Just imagine what trauma and suffering she must have gone through, time never comes back. I was miserable when I heard about his death, he was such a happy and optimistic soul, he knew that his daughter will be back and she did”.

Umar Khalid, Khalid Saifi, Ishrat Jahan, Sharjeel Imam, Meeran Haider, Gulfisha Fatima, Shafa Ur Rehman, Tasleem Ahmed, Tahir Hussain, Salim Malik, Saleem Khan, Athar Khan, Shadab Ahmed are still in jail as the court trial in FIR59/2020 is yet to begin, even after a year.