As the three weeks of the interim bail came to an end, JNU Ph.D. scholar and Pinjra Tod activist Natasha Narwal surrendered at Tihar Jail on May 30.
Pinjra Tod, a women’s rights group in its statement said “It is with deep anger and loss that we say goodbye to her, yet again, in hope that she is released soon.”
Narwal had put a request for bail in the Delhi High Court to be allowed to take care of her father who had contracted COVID19 but days later it was only in the wake of her father Mahavir Narwal‘s death that she was given a three-week interim bail on May 10.
While the country still struggles with the second wave of COVID19, Natasha has joined another Pinjra Tod activist Devangana Kalita in an overcrowded jail as undertrials incarcerated under the draconian UAPA even though both, if they had secured bail in the FIRs, filed against them for their alleged role in North-East Delhi violence.
Narwal and Kalita are two of the many political activists, academicians, leaders many of them elderly and with co-morbidities who are currently languishing in Indian jails as UAPA under trials all of them also happen to be critics of the currently ruling Hindu Nationalist BJP.
In the middle of a health crisis, imprisoning people in overcrowded jails with extremely poor medical infrastructure even before the trial has begun is a violation of their right to life and healthcare— allowed under the legal protection of the undemocratic UAPA.
Pinjra Tod has demanded an “immediate and unconditional release of Natasha, Devangana, and all political prisoners.”
As Natasha surrenders to the Tihar Jail authorities today, we reiterate our demand for the immediate and unconditional release of Natasha, Devangana and all political prisoners. #ReleaseNatasha #ReleaseDevangana#FreeAllPoliticalPrisonershttps://t.co/KIB5PXmoqd
— Pinjra Tod (@PinjraTod) May 30, 2021
Many political prisoners incarcerated under UAPA including, Hany Babu, Jyoti, Stan Swamy, Umar Khalid, etc. have tested positive for the virus in the jail. The families of these prisoners have talked on various occasions about the lack of hygiene and sanitation facilities and even proper food that is required to recover from the disease.
Given the gravity of the virus, the Supreme Court of India has asked the jail authorities to decongest the jails by releasing prisoners on parole or bail but those incarcerated under UAPA, Sedition, etc are exempted from this move and the demands for the release of these political prisoners continue to be sidelined by the state actors and the judiciary.