New Delhi: Devangana Kalita, an MPhil student at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), has been arrested for the third time in less than 10 days, this time by the Delhi police crime branch. She has been sent to police custody for three days.
Kalita was earlier arrested, along with fellow student Natasha Narwal, on May 23 for her presence at the Jaffrabad anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) protest and subsequently released on bail.
But after the court granted her bail, the Delhi police moved again and on May 28 arrested them in a separate case related to the violence that broke out in Delhi. They were charged with attempt to murder, rioting and criminal conspiracy. Narwal has also been charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
While the police had sought 14 days custody, the court only granted two. Now as soon as the period of custody ended, Kalita has been arrested, or shifted from judicial custody, again in a third case. This time she has been charged with unlawful assembly and rioting at Daryaganj.
“On May 23, she was first arrested by the Jafrabad police station along with another activist of Pinjra Tod, Natasha Narwal (32), on charges with their alleged role in the anti-CAA Jafrabad sit-in protest in February this year. A day after, they were both released on bail, but the another unit of crime branch made their arrest under charges of murder, attempt to murder, rioting and criminal conspiracy. They were sent to 14-days judicial custody from where first Narwal was arrested by the Special Cell under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for alleged conspiracy behind the February riots in North-East Delhi. She was arrested again on Saturday, on charges of unlawful assembly and rioting at Daryaganj,” a ‘senior police officer’ told the Indian Express.
While granted Kalita and Narwal bail in the first case, a Delhi court had said that the sections of the Indian Penal code that had been invoked against them were ‘not maintainable’ as they were only ‘protesting against the NRC and CAA’.
“The accused have strong roots in society and are well-educated. Accused are ready to cooperate with the police regarding the investigation,” the order had said.
They had been arrested for their involvement in the anti-CAA protest at Jaffrabad on February 22 and 23. BJP leader Kapil Mishra made provocative speeches near the area with the objective of dislodging the anti-CAA protests, following which communal violence spread across large parts of north-east Delhi in which nearly 60 people lost their lives.
Mishra is yet to be arrested or questioned by the Delhi police.
“The use of draconian laws such as the UAPA, and their invocation against democratic activists is a clear abuse of the powers vested in the state. We condemn the strategy being used by the police of invoking new and unsubstantiated charges on Devangana and Natasha as per the convenience of their narrative and without any basis,” Pinjra Tod said in a statement.