Dehli – As coronavirus infections sweep through its prisons India has in the past month released tens of thousands of inmates. But Safoora Zargar, four months pregnant with her first child, is not one of them. Instead she languishes in the Tihar jail complex of New Delhi.
The 27-year-old PhD student is one of five Muslim students and activists arrested since
India’s lockdown began on March 25 for their role in protests against a law that would make it easier for non-Muslims from neighbouring countries to gain citizenship. Critics say the law entrenches rising Hindu nationalism and openly discriminates against Muslims, who form just over 10 per cent of the population.
But Safoora Zargar, four months pregnant with her first child, is not one of them. Instead she languishes in the Tihar jail complex of New Delhi.
Safoora, who is studying sociology at Jamia Millia University, has spoken to her husband twice from jail since she was detained on April 10. Both times, the call lasted for five minutes before automatically disconnecting, her husband said.
She has told him and her family that she is keeping well. “She is a tough character. But at the end of the day, there can’t be enough care that can be given to a pregnant woman. It is keeping us up at night,” he said.
Police allege Safoora was a “key conspirator” in the three days of communal violence in February, when at least 53 people, mostly Muslims, died and several hundred more were injured. She has been charged under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) – a regressive anti-terror law under which a person can be denied bail for an indefinite period of time.
But activists involved in the protests say they were peacefully opposing the new law, known as the Citizenship Amendment Act or CAA, and the rioting was caused by Hindu groups who attacked mostly Muslim protesters. The activists allege police did nothing to stop the armed mobs and in some cases were even complicit in their actions.