More than 1100 days in prison: Gulfisha Fatima awaits bail

Her bail plea has been heard by the Delhi High Court and the order had been reserved 3 weeks ago, February 13.

Delhi High Court

As this year’s women’s day passes us by, Gulfisha Fatima, an MBA graduate is still languishing in Tihar jail on trumped up charges of “conspiracy” in the 2020 Delhi violence case. She has completed 1120 days in prison. During her bail hearing before the Delhi High Court, her lawyer Sushil Bajaj on February 2 had pleaded that “If nothing else we can at least give her her freedom back’. The trial court, had in May 2022 denied her bail and so she has appealed before the Delhi High Court. The order in this appeal has been reserved by a bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Rajnish Bhatnagar.

Gulfisha was booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) apart from other laws, and accused of being the “mastermind” behind the north-east Delhi violence of February 2020 that followed the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) which claimed the lives of 54 people.

The other accused in the case include, activist Dr. Umar Khalid, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) students’ union member Khalid Saifi, Pinjra Tod activists Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita, Jamia Coordination Committee members Safoora Zargar, former Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) councillor Tahir Hussain, Tasleem Ahmed and several others have also been booked under the stringent law in this case.

The infamous FIR 59/2020 contains stringent charges including Sections 13, 16, 17, 18 of the UAPA, Sections 25 and 27 of the Arms Act and Section 3 and 4 of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1984. The accused are also charged under various offences mentioned under the Indian Penal Code (IPC). 

Gulfisha’s habeas corpus plea was dismissed by Delhi High Court bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh in July 2021 stating that the writ of habeas corpus would not lie in respect of a person who is in judicial custody.

In September 2020, Gulfisha alleged that she was being mentally harassed in prison as the jail authorities were subjecting her to communal slurs.

Trial Court

In May 2022, Gulfisha and another accused, Tasleem Ahmed’s bail pleas were rejected by the Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat saying that in view of the charge sheet and the accompanying documents, the allegations against the accused appear to be “prima facie true”.

For Gulfisha, the court noted that the statements of the protected witnesses showed “sufficient incriminating material” against the accused, who was “not only involved in the entire protest before the period of riots at Seelampur and Jafrabad in North East Delhi, but was also actively guiding it.”

It further recorded that Fatima was allegedly engaged in mass mobilisation, created two WhatsApp groups and was also present in northeast Delhi at the time of the riots.

“In fact, as per the witnesses, she was the one who started the blockade and prompted the attack on police personnel and others with weapons like danda, lal mirch powder and others in the Jafrabad area, which had a cascading effect, leading to the riots,” the court noted.

High Court

Before the High Court, Sushil Bajaj appeared for Gulfisha and advocated vehemently for her release on bail. He submitted that Gulfisha was protesting at Seelampur and she had no connection with Pinjra Tod or its members. Pinjra Tod founders Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal were granted bail in this case in June 2021 and the bench also included Justice Siddharth Mridul.

At the same time, the Delhi Police opposing her bail submitted through Special Public Prosecutor Amit Prasad that Gulfisha was a part of a Whatsapp group where she used to speak in code words such as “chand raat” or “kal eid hai kal Nainital jaana hai” for organising “roadblock” and that she was involved with the girls from the group Pinjra Tod who would decide when the roadblock will take place, reported Indian Express. In response, Bajaj submitted that Gulfisha had only created the WhatsApp group “Warriors” for the purpose of protest and there is nothing incriminating about that.

It was also alleged that Gulfisha took part in an invite-only secret meeting that took place on February 16, 2020 which was organised to discuss the sustainability and coordination of the protest. This “secret meeting” of February 16, 2020 has been brought up by the Delhi Police in various bail proceedings of this case.

The bench has reserved the order in this case.


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Delhi violence: Jailed activist Gulfisha Fatima accuses Delhi Police of diversionary tactics

Dr. Umar Khalid: A human rights defender, failed by the judiciary

857 communal riots in 2020 alone!

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Delhi Violence case: Dr. Umar Khalid denied bail in UAPA case surrounding larger conspiracy




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