NEW DELHI — “Start from scratch,” said the masked Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana to a sparsely attended courtroom as the prosecution sought to defend their claim that Safoora Zargar, a 27 year-old sociology student, now five months pregnant and incarcerated since 10 April, conspired to instigate the communal riots that shook the national capital in February this year.
At least 53 people died in the riots, with constables of the Delhi Police responsible for some of the deaths and violence. Members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are on record making provocative public speeches shortly before and during the riots. Nonetheless, the Delhi Police — which reports to the Union Home Ministry controlled by the BJP — and public prosecutor Irfan Ahmed, appointed by the central government, insist the riots were instigated by students like Zargar.
The Delhi Police has been so eager to imprison Zargar that they first arrested her on April 10 amidst a nation-wide lockdown to stem the transmission of the deadly coronavirus.
When Zargar was granted bail three days later by Metropolitan Magistrate Deepakshi Rana, the police rearrested her the very same day on the basis of a different First Information Report (FIR) filed by the police’s so-called “special cell.” Zargar has been booked under at least 20 sections of the Indian Penal Code, including for murder and sedition, two sections of the Arms Act, and four sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), India’s draconian anti-terror law, and was presented before a different bench.
At least six other students from Jamia Millia Islamia University and Jawaharlal Nehru University have been arrested in connection with the Delhi Riots. The police and prosecution’s actions suggest no let-up in the Narendra Modi’s government’s determination to crackdown against those opposed to the BJP’s Hindu majoritarian agenda.
On 4 June, in the latest bail hearing, Zargar’s lawyer Trideep...