“Suppose my daughter has to stay in jail for a long time, and the time comes that she won’t be able to see me. I’m growing old, maybe I won’t get to see her…” Dr Mahavir Narwal had told Karawan-e-Mohabbat speaking about his daughter jailed anti CAA-activist Natasha Narwal. The video interview showed the world a proud father who had brought up his children to stand up for what is right, his voice a blend of emotions of a doting father and the pride of a fellow activist.
He had said, “There is nothing to fear about being in jail… my daughter will cope with positivity and come back stronger.” He recalled how Natasha Narwal’s brother Akash kept her room tidy, so that when she returns, everything is in its place. Dr Mahavir Narwal (71), died on Sunday, without being able to meet his only daughter one last time. He succumbed to Covid-19 as well as to a system that seems to have abandoned its people. In fact a few days ago when he had fallen ill, SOS calls had gone out on social media to help find him a hospital bed with oxygen support. It was eventually arranged at a Rohtak hospital, but his health got worse quickly and he passed away on Sunday, May 9. And with that another family, has now been thrown into mourning, made even more tragic, as Natasha remains in jail, while her brother Akash is reportedly in home isolation due to Covid-19. This family cannot even mourn together as things stand.
A retired senior scientist, Mahavir Narwal had always spoken about his close relationship with his children who he raised as a single parent. He has always supported his daughter’s activism, and many have hailed him as the wind beneath her wings as she stood up for human rights and was arrested in connection with a case filed against anti-CAA protesters in Jaffrabad, along with another Pinjra Tod activist Devangana Kalita on May 23, 2020.
Natasha’s bail petition to visit her father in hospital was to be heard today, Monday May 10 stated Pinjra Tod members. However, Dr Narwal passed away without being able to meet his child, one he had been waiting to see since she was arrested last year from her home. Natasha remains in jail as she has been booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for her alleged role in the Delhi riots. The student led movement Pinjra Tod stated that Dr Narwal fought to prove Natasha’s innocence and remembered him as a “comrade, father, friend, fellow traveller…”
We have lost Mahavir Narwal- comrade, father, friend, fellow traveller. He passed away 2 hrs back due to covid-related complications. This is an immense loss for us and the larger community as for Natasha. He was a rock for many, a voice of sanity in the din.. pic.twitter.com/GO7M6iVZUT
— Pinjra Tod (@PinjraTod) May 9, 2021
A Delhi court had rejected Natasha Narwal’s bail plea, Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat disposed of Pinjra Tod activist Natasha Narwal’s bail application on grounds that the allegations against her were “prima facie true”.
Dr Narwal’s passing is “not just one more tragic death. It’s wilful,” said senior journalist-activist Teesta Setalvad, who also called for Natasha’s release as well as that of all political prisoners currently in jail in the midst of the devastating pandemic.
It’s not just 1 more tragic https://t.co/u8BO2YokRZ‘s wilful.Brave Natasha Narwal’s father, Mahavir N passed away today without seeing her, it’s cruel, sick. Natasha is jailed on false chrges. HC reserved orders on her bail plea on 24.04. a forever regret
— Teesta Setalvad (@TeestaSetalvad) May 9, 2021
Tributes are pouring in for Dr Narwal, who retired as a senior scientist from CCS Haryana Agricultural University, Hisar, and was a senior member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist).
CPIM expresses deep condolences on the demise of Comrade Mahavir Narwal, a senior member of CPIM.
It is criminal act of the Modi govt that his daughter Natasha Narwal was arrested under UAPA last year and couldn’t even meet her father.
Lal Salaam Mahavir Narwal! pic.twitter.com/B6An9V5y9L
— CPI (M) (@cpimspeak) May 9, 2021
With Natasha Narwal, her family and @PinjraTod comrades in rage and sorrow, at the death from Covid-19 of Natasha’s father Comrade Mahavir Narwal, who stood by his daughter’s fight for justice. Modi, Shah kept Natasha in jail, denying father & daughter a chance to say goodbye. pic.twitter.com/QsvEDVMw3p
— CPIML Liberation (@cpimlliberation) May 9, 2021
Dr Narwal is being remembered for his activism and his support for all activists, even as she followed his daughter’s court case. “She is absolutely innocent. I know it, I believe it, and I hope for justice from the courts to see her be freed,” he had told The Indian Express shortly after Natasha’s arrest. He had always maintained that the political prisoners were being “intentionally harassed”.
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Why is Natasha Narwal not allowed to register for PhD semesters at JNU?