Jamia student in quarantine at Tihar gets 10 mins. with lawyer

Safoora Zargar is 14 weeks pregnant, faces nutrition issues

April 28, 2020 01:37 am | Updated 01:37 am IST - New Delhi

Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) scholar Safoora Zargar, imprisoned under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act at Tihar jail — where she has reportedly been placed in quarantine — was granted permission to speak to her lawyer for 10 minutes before applying for certain concessions before jail authorities by a court here on Monday.

Ms. Zargar (27), who is 14-weeks pregnant, was arrested and sent to judicial custody on April 10 on the basis of an FIR which accused her of participating in anti-CAA and NRC protests at the Jaffrabad metro station, prior to riots breaking out in the area. She was an active member of the Jamia Coordination Committee, a group of students and alumni of the JMI who had been engaged in carrying out protests outside the university.

At her bail hearing on April 13, the investigating officer opposed the bail on the grounds of “suspicion of involvement of the accused in anti-national activities”.

Bail was, however, granted on the grounds of her pregnancy, other medical conditions, and the fact that the High Court had directed authorities to decongest jails on account of COVID-19 outbreak. But as the bail hearing was under way, Ms. Zargar was remanded under another FIR, which slapped her with the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, a source close to her said.

She along with others have been accused of rioting, conspiracy, sedition and other charges. At a second bail hearing on April 18, her lawyers argued that she was being falsely implicated in the case, with her name not even featuring in the FIR.

‘Superficial reply’

Having reportedly filed a “cryptic and superficial” reply on the role of Ms. Zargar in the case, the court told the investigating officer to file a detailed reply on April 20. On the next date, her lawyers argued that she was initially arrested on bailable offences and later more serious offences were added by the Special Cell, the order denying bail reads.

“The allegations are baseless and material collected by the investigative officer do not link her to the commission of alleged offences,” the lawyers had argued.

The court denied bail noting the nature and gravity of the offences in addition to another serious allegation raised in the previous FIR.

Presently at Tihar jail, Ms. Zargar had not been allowed to contact her family on account of curbs due to COVID-19. When briefly contacted by her lawyer on April 25, she said that no maternity exam had been done and she was facing issues with her nutrition.

On Monday, an application requesting she be allowed to talk to her husband twice a week, be provided certain nutritional requirements, hygienic condition were directed to be placed before jail authorities.

An application to have Ms. Zargar examined at AIIMS or Safdarjung Hospital was dismissed stating that it was unclear as to why the medical practitioner at the jail could not examine her. The court also noted that while earlier it had been alleged that Ms. Zargar had been placed in solitary confinement, her lawyer submitted that she had been quarantined due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The court gave the lawyer 10 minutes with Ms. Zargar to prepare arguments, before placing her application before the jail authorities.

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