Devangana Kalita

New Delhi: “We have got a super birthday gift,” said the mother of Pinjra Tod activist Devangana Kalita, who was granted bail on Tuesday by the Delhi High Court in a case related to the northeast Delhi riots in February last year.

Devangana’s birthday is on June 18 and the bail could not have come at a better time, her mother Kalpana Kalita said.

“Before the birthday, it’s a super gift for us. Last birthday, she was in jail. We couldn’t even wish her. Even our lawyer couldn’t even meet her or talk to her at that time,” she told PTI over phone from her hometown Dibrugarh in Assam.

Recalling the fateful day of May 23, 2020 when Devangana was arrested along with fellow Pinjra Tod activist Natasha Narwal, Kalpana said, “Around 2.30 pm, we had a video call with her. We knew the SIT was coming to interrogate her. At 3 pm, the SIT came and at 6 pm they were arrested and taken to Jaffrabad police station and then to many other police stations.”

The two were arrested under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) in connection with a case of larger conspiracy related to the riots.

In February last year, Devangana’s father had last seen her while Kalpana and her son hadn’t seen her in more than a year.

“She was busy protesting at Jaffrabad during that time. She told her father that she’s very busy. If we keep silent then who will protest? Devangana’s mother said.

Kalpana said she heard her daughter’s voice after a year on Tuesday and during the one-minute conversation, Devangana told her that she has been granted bail.

Also Read | Delhi Police arrest Assam’s Devangana Kalita 3rd time in 10 days

“The Indian judiciary is very slow but we had faith. UAPA is a stringent law. It is very difficult to get bail. I didn’t know anything about law. But after this case, we started reading law related material. We learnt that in UAPA, jail is a rule and bail is an exception but today the exception has come true,” she said.

While granting bail to Narwal and Devangana, the Delhi High Court observed that the right to protest is a fundamental right and cannot be termed as a ‘terrorist act’.

“Though the arguments were good by our lawyers and the Delhi Police was not able to produce the evidence, we had doubts about getting bail, Kalpana said.

“We were not expecting the bail today. But now we can say that today actually it’s a victory of democracy and not of Devangana and Natasha,” she said.

Kalpana also remembered Natasha’s father Mahavir Narwal who succumbed to coronavirus last month.

“Her father, Mahavir Narwal, was a constant support to us. Her father would have been the happiest person on earth had he been alive. He was our friend. We would draw strength from him. He was in jail during the emergency and he would say ‘ladkiyan jail nahi jaayengi toh kaise seekhengi’,” she recalled.

Thanking her lawyers and friends in Delhi who stood by them, she said the family will come to the national capital to meet Devangana once the Covid situation stabilises.



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