Crime & Justice

3 activists in India get bail after over a year

New Delhi, Jun 15 (EFE).- An Indian court on Tuesday granted bail to three young activists arrested under a controversial anti-terrorist law in connection with the communal riots between Muslims and Hindus last year in New Delhi.

Student activists Devangana Kalita, Natasha Narwal and Asif Iqbal Tanha were released on bail as a part of three separate orders from the High Court in New Delhi.

The arrest of these activists, along with those of others such as pregnant student Safoora Zargar amid the coronavirus crisis, led to criticism by human rights organizations against misuse of the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Zargar was granted bail in June last year.

In its three orders on Tuesday, the Delhi court also criticized the Indian government’s heavy handed approach towards the activists.

“We are constrained to say, that it appears, that in its anxiety to suppress dissent and in the morbid fear that matters may get out of hand, the State has blurred the line between the constitutionally guaranteed ‘right to protest’ and ‘terrorist activity’,” said the two-judge bench.

“If such blurring gains traction, democracy would be in peril,” the Delhi High Court observed.

Kalita and Narwal, members of the feminist organization Pinjra Tod, were arrested on May 29 last year, while Tanha was arrested on the 19th of the same month.

The Indian state has accused the three activists of conspiring to instigate violence between Muslim and Hindu communities in the northeastern part of the capital during the riots that left some 50 dead and 200 wounded in February last year.

These clashes occurred in the context of largely peaceful demonstrations against a citizenship law promoted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government.

This contentious law seeks to naturalize irregular immigrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan, while excluding Muslims, leading to months of protests across the country.

Human rights organizations have criticized the numerous arrests of activists under anti-terrorism laws in India.

“Indian authorities should drop these charges against peaceful protesters and critics, hold to account police officials that made false allegations of serious crimes to keep them jailed,” tweeted Human Rights Watch South Asia head Meenakshi Ganguly on Tuesday. EFE


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