JNU student and activist, Devangana Kalita, granted bail in Daryaganj violence case

The Magistrate who had granted her bail in an earlier case as well, noted that she is not a habitual offender and there is no direct evidence against her

Devangana Kalita

A Delhi court has granted bail to JNU student Devangana Kalita, who is also the co-founder of a women’s rights collective ‘Pinjra Tod’, in Daryaganj violence case. Natasha Narwal, the other founder of Pinjra Tod is the co-accused in this case.

Kalita and Natasha Narwal, both research scholars in Jawaharlal Nehru University, were arrested on May 23 in a case related to violence that erupted in Jafrabad during the anti-CAA women’s sit-in. They were granted bail on May 24 in the Jafrabad violence case at a special hearing at Mandoli Jail by the same Duty Magistrate for the reason that no prima facie case of assault on public servant was made out and also the Magistrate observed that the accused, well-educated and having strong roots in society, were merely protesting against CAA and NRC without violence.

In this FIR, offences under sections 147 [Punishment for rioting], 148 [Rioting, armed with deadly weapon], 149 [Every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object], 153A [Promoting enmity between different groups], 436 [Mischief by fire or explosive substance], 437 [Mischief with intent to destroy or make unsafe a decked vessel], 323[Punishment for voluntarily causing hurt], 325 [Punishment for voluntarily causing grievous hurt], 332 [Voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty], 362 [abduction], 186 [Obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions] and 120B [criminal conspiracy] of the IPC were invoked. This was in relation to violence that occurred in Daryaganj area of Delhi.

The police had based their arguments on medico-legal certificates (MLCs) of injured persons who claimed she was present at the scene of the violence but the Magistrate observed that the CCTV footage did not specifically show the accused to be involved in any violent activity. He further held that mere MLCs of the injured persons were not enough to make a strong prima facie case for denial of bail to the accused.

The court observed, “the inference whether the accused incited or participated in the mob violence or had intended to participate in a peaceful protest only which later on acquired a violent nature, can only be reached upon after appreciation of evidence in course of trial. Accused is not a habitual offender or a previous convict..” The court granted Kalita bail on condition that she will not indulge in similar activity and will cooperate with the investigation and further furnish a bond of Rs. 30,000 with two sureties of same amount. The court also directed Kalita to deposit her passport to the court.

While granting bail, the court also observed, “The accused allegedly, on the basis of social media posts participated in protests against the NRC Bill, but so far as the investigation been carried out till now, no direct evidence attributable to the accused has been found to bring her to the offences u/s 325/352 of IPC.”

In a statement, Front Line Defenders, an organization working with the aim of protecting human rights defenders, said, “In defending the Constitution and protesting the CAA, Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal are protesting against the systematic targeting of minority communities and the removal of legal and social safeguards aimed at protecting some of India’s most vulnerable groups.”

Prior to Narwal and Kalita, Safoora Zargar, Meeran Haider, Umar Khalid, Asif Iqbal Tanha, Shifa-Ur-Rahman, Tahir Hussain (AAP Councilor) had been arrested under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). Front Line Defenders notes that in each of the arrests, there is a disturbing pattern of including more serious charges – including under anti-terror laws – post arrest, to ensure continued incarceration, despite the risk of Covid-19.

The organization notes that the activists are facing prolonged detention as a direct reprisal to their peaceful human rights work and condemns the ongoing judicial harassment of these human rights defenders.

Two bails later, Kalita will still be in custody. When she was granted bail in the Jafrabad case on May 24, the Delhi Crime Branch had immediately moved an application to remand her and Narwal in custody in connection with the northeast Delhi riots. The Magistrate had remanded them to 2 days custody then which, as per LiveLaw, is being subsequently extended from time to time. Narwal was also separately arrested by the crime branch in a Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) case.


Front Line Defenders condemns arrest of Pinjra Tod activists, demands immediate release

Attack on anti-CAA activists continue, Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) students arrested

Bail in one case, custody in another for two Pinjra Tod activists



Related Articles