Amnesty International slams India for arresting pregnant activist
Amnesty International India on Friday slammed the country for arresting Safoora Zargar, a pregnant activist who was arrested in a case pertaining to the communal violence that erupted in Delhi against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
Taking to Twitter, the human rights organisation demanded an immediate release of the 27-year-old activist while censuring New Delhi for “ruthlessly arresting a pregnant woman and sending her to overcrowded prison amid coronavirus.”
At the time of her arrest, Safoora Zargar, a research scholar at @jmiu_official, was 3 months pregnant.
The Government of India has ruthlessly arrested a pregnant woman and sent her to an overcrowded prison during #COVID19!
— Amnesty India (@AIIndia) May 1, 2020
The imprisoned activist was associated with the Jamia Coordination Committee (JCC), which organised weeks of peaceful protests in the capital against a citizenship law passed by the Indian parliament last December.
Zargar, a research scholar from Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) university, was arrested on April 10 and was subsequently charged under the stringent anti-terror law, the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 2019 (UAPA), by the Delhi police, read the news report by Al-Jazeera.
According to the report, police accused Zargar of being a key ‘conspirator’ in the February violence that flared up in northeast Delhi after supporters of the Hindu nationalist government attacked peaceful sit-ins.
At least 53 people were killed, mostly Muslims, in the worst violence that took place in the capital since the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
While Zargar is currently spending her Ramadan fasting in Tihar jail, Delhi Police claimed that she is being kept in a separate prison and has been facilitated with medical supervision and other special arrangements, read a report by Times of India.
The communal violence in India began after the country passed a law known as the Citizenship Amendment Bill, that grants citizenship to religious minorities from Muslim-majority countries — Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh — but excludes Muslim immigrants.
The bill has been slammed for specifically targeting Muslims, and unfairly making religion a condition for applying for Indian citizenship. This, critics say, is a violation of Article 14 of the Indian constitution, which guarantees the right to equality.
Thousands of protesters took to the streets by storm and raised their voices against the new bill, saying that it was a form of exclusion of Muslims and displays a deep-seated bias against the community, which makes up 14% of India’s population.