MBA graduate and activist, Gulfisha Fatima awaits justice

Fatima, and a series of activists and scholars, have been incarcerated as an undertrial, awaiting justice for four years today.
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On March 5, about a month ago, the Delhi High Court’s Justices Suresh Kumar Kait and Manoj Jain heard a petition for bail. The court decided to reserve its bail verdict. Gulfisha Fatima again was sent back to prison. As the probe by the police continues, April 9 marks four years of the incarceration of Gulfisha Fatima. An MBA graduate, resident of Delhi – a bright young girl, Gulfisha has been implicated and accused of violence during the north-east Delhi violence of 2020. Commonly known as Gul by her friends, she was immersed in the anti-CAA protests, taking awareness sessions. She was also photographed taking English language classes with local Muslim women in the protests.

In 2020, Gulfisha Fatima was arrested under FIR 48 related to the communal violence in Delhi. The FIR was registered at Jafrabad Police Station and included serious charges such as murder, rioting, unlawful assembly, and sedition. Initially, Gulfisha was granted bail on May 13, 2020 for FIR 48. However, within ten days, she was subsequently charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA) in another case by April 19. The police have claimed that Gulfisha was physically present at the protest site near Jafrabad Metro Station from February 22 to 24, where she is accused of conspiring and instigating violence during protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act. The police have further also claimed that she had had an office near the protest site from where she would take to planning riots with others, including those accused in the case such as Khalid Saifi, Natasha Narwal, Devangana Kalita, and her lawyer Mehmood Pracha.

After several such arrests, experts from the United Nations called the arrests politically motivated and called for her release, along with other protestors. “These defenders, many of them students, appear to have been arrested simply because they exercised their right to denounce and protest against the CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act).”

The experts termed the arrests as “designed to send a chilling message…that criticism of government policies will not be tolerated.”

Furthermore, besides FIR 48 and 59, Gulfisha has been implicated in several other cases, such as FIRs 83 and 50 of 2020. She was granted bail in one case related to FIR 58 but denied in others, including the UAPA case where her plea for default bail was dismissed, and thus remains in prison.

In 2022, Gulfisha Fatima pleaded to the court that the witnesses against her by the prosecution were actually ‘accused’, “unpardoned accused masquerading as witnesses against her.” Similarly, her lawyer, Mehmood Paracha, accused the prosecution of using ‘diversionary tactics’ to ensure that she remains in prison.

Gulfisha has seen widespread support from citizens. Soon after her arrest, her supporters and well-wishers released a letter in support of her, describing her as “falsely charged under the draconian UAPA law for daring to defend the Constitution, and for peacefully resisting the anti-people CAA-NRC-NPR. Just as she lit up the protest spaces with her warm smiles, compassion and innate intelligence, Gulfisha, lovingly known as Gul, continues to keep the flame of justice alive within her at Tihar Jail, as well as the urge to carry on the legacy of her ideals – Savitribai Phule and Fatima Sheikh – the foremost feminist educators of this land!”

In a story by Huff Post, Gulfisha is described by her family as quiet and studious and an individual who has a strong sense of justice. Gulfisha’s brother narrates how her last few words during her arrest were, “Her voice was calm. Baaji has never been one to get emotional about things. All she said was to tell abba and ammi.” It took about 25 days for her brother to come up with the courage to tell their parents, who, according to the piece, run a small general store in Delhi.



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