Natasha Narwal, jailed anti-CAA activist, granted interim bail after father dies of Covid-19
Jailed Pinjra Tod activist Natasha Narwal was granted a three-week interim bail by the Delhi high court on Monday to conduct the last rites of her father, Mahavir Narwal, who passed away of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) a day ago. Natasha, booked under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) has remained behind bars at New Delhi's Tihar Jail since May last year when she was arrested for an alleged 'premeditated conspiracy' in the northeast Delhi riots in February that year.
Mahavir Narwal was a senior member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI-M). Sources close to the family told news agency PTI on Sunday that he was not even allowed to speak to his daughter, who was in jail, before he passed away of Covid-19. Mahavir's son, Aakash, who has also tested positive for the coronavirus disease, was there with his father at the time of his death, Natasha's kin said.
Raising Natasha's case and similar instances as a plank, Left activists and civil society groups have long been demanding that "political prisoners" be released, especially so in view of the recent surge in coronavirus disease cases across the country.
The Delhi high court bench, while granting Natasha Narwal the interim relief, noted the circumstances concerning the aftermath of the death of her father. It was noted that the hospital, where Mahavir Narwal breathed his last at 6pm last evening, has kept the body, waiting for Natasha to return and receive the same. There is no one else in the family to perform the last rites and cremation, the court noted, highlighting that Natasha's brother Aakash is in isolation himself.
"In view of the circumstances elaborated here, and in the interest of justice, we are of the view that the release of the applicant is imperative in this hour of grief and personal loss and in the facts and circumstances of the case," the Delhi high court bench noted.
The Delhi police did not resist the bail plea. However, Natasha has been directed to furnish a personal bond in the sum of ₹50,000 to the satisfaction of the jail superintendent and her phone number to the SHO special cell of the Delhi Police and the Rohtak Police, under whose jurisdiction the last rites of Mahavir Narwal are to be performed.
Moreover, Natasha Narwal was also asked not to "tweet anything" and to maintain radio silence for the duration of her interim relief.