Sunday, December 10, 2023

Jamia student leader Safoora denied bail after Judge finds ‘No merit’ in plea

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Delhi court on Thursday denied bail to student leader and Jamia Millia Islamia scholar Safoora Zargar, saying it found “no merits” in her application.

Safoora Zargar, leader of the Jamia Coordination Committee, was arrested by Delhi Police’s Special Cell after being accused of hatching a conspiracy to incite riots in the northeast Delhi in February this year.

“I do not find merits in the bail application, it is accordingly dismissed,” the Patiala court under additional sessions judge (ASJ) Dharmender Rana said while dismissing the plea filed by Safoora.

“In order to deal with the issue whether provisions of UAPA have been rightfully invoked in the instant matter or not, we would necessarily have to deal with the word ‘disaffection against India’ as prescribed in sub-clause 3 of Section 2 (0) of UAPA. The word ‘disaffection’ has not been statutorily defined in any statutory provisions,” the judge observed while saying that the invocation of the provisions of UAPA in the case is justified.

“Further, even if no direct violence is attributable to the accused, she cannot shy away from her liability under the provisions of the said Act. When you choose to play with embers, you cannot blame the wind to have carried the spark a bit too far and spread the fire. The acts and inflammatory speeches of the co-conspirators are admissible u/s 10 of the Indian Evidence Act even against the accused,” Rana also said while dismissing Safoora’s bail plea.

The judge, however, directed the jail officials to provide adequate medical aid and assistance to Safoora, who is pregnant.

Additional Public Prosecutor for the state has vehemently opposed the bail application arguing that there is enough material available on record to show that the Safoora was involved in Delhi riots and the prosecution has rightfully invoked the provisions of UAPA.

Opposing her bail application, the prosecution submitted before the court that she had allegedly made inflammatory speeches and was part of a conspiracy to instigate communal violence, which had been planned weeks ago.

They also told the court that the accused persons were part of the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act in various parts of the national capital.

“The prosecution is alleging that the accused delivered an inflammatory speech on 23.02.2020 at Chand Bagh which led to violence and rioting in North East Delhi. It is forcefully argued that on 23.02.2020 the accused has in fact not delivered any speech at all, at Chand Bagh,” Safoora’s counsel told the court.

He also said that Safoora delivered a speech at Khureji on 23.02.2020 at about 4.00 p.m but that in itself was not at all provocative or inflammatory.

“Moreover, it even did not incite anybody to resort to violence. She was merely involved in a peaceful protest against CAA, which is her fundamental right under Article 19 of the Constitution of India,” Jamia student’s lawyer told the court.

“Stringent provisions of UAPA are not attracted simply because the accused holds a divergent view on a piece of legislation and she disagrees with the opinion of the Government and decides to peacefully protest against the Government measure,” said Safoora’s counsel.

Safoora Zargar is 21 weeks pregnant. Her lawyers argued that she has polycystic ovary syndrome increasing her chances of a miscarriage.

International human rights watchdogs including Amnesty International and civil society groups, teachers associations, student organizations, and filmmakers across India had issued different statements calling for the release of Safoora Zargar and anti-CAA activists who were ‘targetted by Hindu nationalist government for protesting anti-Muslim laws’ and ‘arrested under false accusations by Delhi Police.’

Apart from Safoora, Delhi Police arrested Jamia Millia Islamia student leaders Meeran Haider and Asif Iqbal Tanha, Jawaharlal Nehru University student and Pinjra Tod activist Natasha Narwal, former Delhi Municipal Councillor Ishrat Jahan, Gulfisha, an MBA student and a coordinator of the women-led sit-in in Seelampur-Jafrabad against CAA, the president of the Alumni Association of Jamia Millia Islamia (AAJMI) Shifa-Ur-Rehman, Aam Admi Party leader Tahir Hussain, United Against Hate activist Khalid Saifi under UAPA charges in Northeast Delhi violence case. Another JNU student and Pinjra Tod activist Devangana Kalita is also in jail with several charges.

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Aslah Kayyalakkath
Aslah Kayyalakkath
Aslah Kayyalakkath is a Founding Editor of Maktoob. He tweets @aslahtweets


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