On Monday, May 10, Jailed Anti-CAA activist and member of Pinjra Tod Natasha Narwal was granted bail after her father, Mahavir Narwal, was reported to have died of COVID-19. Mahavir Narwal was admitted at admitted to a Rohtak based hospital in Haryana for treatment of COVID-19.

Background

On Monday, The Delhi High Court Granted Pinjra Tod’s Natasha Narwal an interim-bail of 3 weeks so that she can perform the last rites of her father, Mahavir Narwal. Natasha was serving time in Tihar Jail since May 2020 as she was booked under UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act). She was booked under one of the strictest acts after her alleged role in the Delhi violence that occurred in February 2020.

Details

The Delhi High Court was approached by Narwal’s advocate Adit Pujari who sought for an interim-bail due to the fact that Natasha’s father had passed away. The bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Anup J. Bhambhani asked the prosecution if they had any opposition. The prosecution had none and thus, the gavel was put down in the matter.

Imperative for court to release Natasha in the hour of grief

The High Court bench ruled, “Shri Mahavir Narwal is survived only by Akash Narwal (brother) who is in self isolation owing to COVID-19 and Natasha Narwal. Therefore, there is nobody else in the family to perform the last rites and cremation.”

The bench further added, “In view of the foregoing and interest of justice, we are of the view that the release of applicant is imperative in this hour of grief and personal loss. We accordingly release Natasha Narwal on three weeks interim bail.”

Although the prosecution did not oppose to the order, Natasha was instructed to put down a bond amounting Rs. 50,000 to the jail superintendent. Additionally, she was also asked to deposited her phone number to the station house officer (SHO) of Rohtak Police under whose jurisdiction the last rites are to be performed. Further, Narwal has also been directed to maintain the silence and not tweet anything throughout the duration.

More about Mahavir Narwal, CPI senior member

Mahavir Narwal was a senior member of CPI (Communist Party of India) who was vocal with his positive stand on the arrest of his daughter. A reformer in his own right, Narwal was also a part of the People’s Science Movement and other initiatives which aimed at encouraging logical thinking. Moreover, Mahavir was also a senior scientist at Hisar’s Chaudhary Charan Singh Agricultural University.

After the imprisonment of his daughter, Narwal spoke to media and said how it’s important to raise voices and continue defending basic human rights.

“Jail is nothing to be feared of. What is there to be scared of? She [Natasha Narwal] will manage…,” said Mr. Narwal. “It’s a matter of right of individuals, which can only be defended through dissent. There is no other way to defend human rights. You should be worried about a future in which dissent is not your right anymore,”

-he added.

Shiksha time machine: Natasha Narwal’s Arrest

It should be noted that Natasha was inspired by the peaceful protest at Shaheen Bagh and thus, she participated in several anti-CAA protests at venues such as Shaheen Bagh, Jafrabad Metro Station in Delhi and Ghantaghar in Lucknow. In April, 2020, she was interrogated by Special Unit officers. After this, she was arrested and charged with UAPA act (a non-bailable act) for her role in “conspiracy” that incited the February 2020 pogrom as a part of plan that’s purpose was defaming Indian PM Narendra Modi.

On Mahavir’s death, the CPI also took to Twitter and slammed Modi govt. “It is [a] criminal act of the Modi government that his daughter Natasha Narwal was arrested under UAPA last year and [she] couldn’t even meet her father,” the party wrote in one of its tweets.