A 27-year-old student reportedly pregnant, in her second trimester, from Jamia Millia Islamia University is languishing in the Tihar jail since April 10 for protesting the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). Safoora Zargar, the police claims is the key conspirator of the violence that broke out in Delhi in February this year. But ask her friends and they have a different story to tell.
Ladeeda Farzana, a Jamia student is a friend of Zargar and also an active protestor against CAA. She speaks to SheThePeople. “We used to go for the protests together be it at Shaheen Bagh or elsewhere. She has always been a very caring person. As I have Asthma and she would continue to ask me to take care of my health. She has been there for me and others,” Farzana says.
What has Safoora Zargar done?
This MPhil student is the media coordinator of the Jamia Coordination Committee (JCC) and has led the protest against CAA starting from within her college since December. She has now been slapped with the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 2019 (UAPA) by the Delhi Police. “She was actively involved in protests since the beginning of the anti-CAA protests in December. She was at the forefront of the protest that happened on December 12 at the girls’ hostel of Jamia. I got to know her from there itself and then we used to go for the protests together,” Farzana says.
Zargar is not the only one who has been booked under the anti-terror law. We recently spoke to Kashmir-based photojournalist Masrat Zahra who has also been booked under this law and in an interview with SheThePeople she said, “I am a journalist and not a social activist. I don’t have any political agenda and as a journalist, our work is to bring out authentic and verified stories without any bias.”
The police’s version puts the spotlight on a specific protest that happened at Jafrabad. They say that Zargar planned a 50-day-long sit-in protest against CAA in Jafrabad-Seelampur locality in Delhi and that the protest led to communal violence. They allege that the violence claimed the lives of at least 52 people most of whom were Muslims. The Business Standard reports that due to this the Delhi Police has named Zargar as the key conspirator of the violence.
What lies ahead?
Under the UAPA, Zargar has been charged with 18 criminal activities including rioting, possession of arms, attempt to murder, incitement of violence, sedition, murder, and promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion. An Al Jazeera report claims that this may make her ineligible to apply for an early bail while others who have been arrested and haven’t been to trial are being reportedly released.
The other activists who have been charged under this law before are RJD’s youth wing president, Meeran Haider, former JNU student, Umar Khalid and a northeast Delhi resident, Danish. The punishment under UAPA can be anywhere from two years to ten years or more. Read the act here.
Will the protest against CAA continue?
Ladeeda Farzana who was the face of the Jamia protest as seen in the image above believes that India will return to CAA dissent and protests will come back. She has strong views about the ways Muslims are treated and she shares. “India became the worst country to live in for Muslims. This is the first thing I’d like to say with regards to the arrests. The judiciary could have considered the fact that she is pregnant and is not in the best of her health to be arrested but since she is a Muslim, humane treatment isn’t been meted to her.”
She was at the forefront of the protest that happened on December 12 at the girls’ hostel of Jamia. I got to know her from there itself and then we used to go for protests together be it at Shaheen Bagh or elsewhere – Ladeeda Farzana
She continues her statement by adding, “The government is trying to suppress the protest by arresting the activists during the corona crisis. They want that when the country gets back to its normal state, no protests should take place. People’s health and poverty is not their concern but they are using this lockdown to target the leaders of the Anti-CAA movement.”
Do protestors fear arrest?
I asked her Ladeeda Farzana if she is scared of the arrest? She disagrees and says she has no fear. “I am sure that when this situation of COVID-19 gets over, from that day itself we will start our protest. We are not scared of these things as charging Muslims with sedition and UAPA is not new at all. Whatever happens, we will go ahead with it,” she says.
Picture credit- Aslah Kayyalakkath/Twitter