Who is Safoora Zargar and What’s the issue ?
Safoora Zargar, a 27 year-old scholar, an MPhil (sociology) student, is the media coordinator of the Jamia Coordination Committee, a group comprised of current and former JMI students that was reportedly actively involved in protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
21 weeks pregnant now in judicial custody and lodged in Tihar Jail, Delhi on account of Delhi police’s FIR under a dozen and a half different sections including for murder and sedition of Indian Penal Code in addition to two sections of the Arms Act and four sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) since 10 April, alleged also she conspired to instigate the communal riots that trembled the national capital in February this year and witnessed 53 deaths among whom two-thirds were reportedly Muslims.
She was initially arrested on bailable offences and later more serious offences were added by the Special Cell of Police.
A Logical Inference
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is on record making provocative public speeches shortly before and during the riots.
The February 23 riots occurred shortly after a member of India’s ruling party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), held a rally in New Delhi calling on authorities to clear the city of demonstrators protesting the CAA
Nonetheless, the Delhi Police which reports to the Union Home Ministry controlled by the BJP — and public prosecutor Irfan Ahmed, appointed by the central government, insist the riots were instigated by students like Zargar.
Delhi police arrested safoora zargar on April 10 amidst a nation-wide lockdown.
The Bail on 13th April and the Rearrest
Safoora who got married on October 10, 2018 and were already three months pregnant when she got arrested in connection with the Delhi riots episode. . A bail plea was moved citing that Safoora is three months pregnant and hence, her health should be taken care of,” the member said.
She granted bail three days later by Metropolitan Magistrate Deepakshi Rana.
Bail was granted on the grounds of her pregnancy, other medical conditions, and the fact that the High Court had directed authorities to decongest jails on account of COVID-19 outbreak however police then rearrested her the very same day on the basis of a different First Information Report (FIR) filed by the police’s “special cell.”
At least six other students from Jamia Millia Islamia University and Jawaharlal Nehru University have also been arrested in connection with the Delhi Riots.
June 4th, the Courtroom
Submissions by Defense Counsel
On 4 June, in the latest bail hearing, Zargar’s lawyer Trideep Pais said tracking Zargar’s movements on 23 February through her phone signal and WhatsApp message revealed that she had only passed by Chand Bagh that day and gone to Khureji instead, another hotspot ten kilometers away.
He added, Zargar did give a speech here on 23 February, but it was not the least bit inflammatory. He pointed out that she was not booked under the FIR that was registered for the violence in Khureji, three days after her speech.
So even if one is to assume that Zargar did speak in Chand Bagh , there was no violence reported till close to 24 hours after the hypothetical speech.
Like in the Khureji case, Pais said that Zargar was also not booked under the FIR registered for the violence that erupted here.
Trideep Pais said that she was in her 21st week of pregnancy and suffering from health complications that could increase her chances of miscarriage.
Pais also said there had been no recovery, and a Delhi Police raid of the JCC office had only turned up blankets and relief materials. The evidence on record, Pais said, offered no basis for the imposition of the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
He further added that Safoora was liable only for her individual acts and speeches and the acts of other members of the group could not be read against her.
Zargar’s lawyers also appealed for bail on humanitarian grounds pointed out that inmates in all three of Delhi’s jails had contracted the coronavirus infection adding “It’s not her life alone that we are concerned with today,” he said.
The Governments’ Stand
The government alleged that Zargar was “managing” Chand Bagh , a hotspot in the riots, where a meeting to plan the riots was held on the intervening night of 16-17 February.
Zargar was not physically present at the meeting, but she was still “managing” it, the government said. Then, on 23 February, the government alleged that she gave a provocative speech at Chand Bagh , which led to violence on the afternoon of 24 February — a day later.
The Prosecutions’ Point
Ahmed, the government prosecutor, argued the Jamia Coordination Committee had organised most of the anti-CAA protests, and then decided to escalate their agitation, resulting in the riots.
While making its arguments against granting of bail, the prosecution submitted a seizure memo relating to FIR 101/2020 registered by the Khajoori Khas Police Station. The seizures in FIR 101/2020 of Police Station Khajuri Khas include materials like stones, bricks, crates of glass bottles, and 3 sling shots that were reportedly found in front of suspended Aam Aadmi Party leader Tahir Hussain’s house.
The reference to evidence collected in another case, pertaining to another FIR, during Zargar’s bail hearing came as a surprise, given that the student was not arrested in FIR 101/2020 but 59/2020.
The Judges’ Inference
While dismissing the bail petition, Judge Dharmendra Rana rejected the submissions and said:
“When you choose to play with embers, you cannot blame the wind to have carried the spark a bit too far and spread the fire. The acts and inflammatory speeches of the co-conspirators are admissible u/s 10 of the Indian Evidence even against the applicant/accused.”
“As per the provisions of sections 339 of the Indian Penal Code, causing wrongful restrain to even a single individual is a penal offence.
Section 141 clause 3 provides that any assembly of five or more persons is designated as ‘unlawful’, if its common object is to commit any offence.”
The judge held that “there is prima facie evidence to show that there was a conspiracy to at least block the roads (chakka jam).”
Evidences relied upon
The Judge referred to statements made by eye witnesses and a WhatsApp chat that had been placed on record.