On April 10, a Special Cell of Delhi Police arrested Safoora Zargar, 27, an MPhil student from Jamia Millia Islamia. The police alleged she had incited mobs that led to a devastating riot in northeast Delhi in February. The arrest of Zargar, who is over three months pregnant, has trigerred an outrage.
Zargar did her graduation from Jesus and Mary College, Delhi University, where she was associated with Women's Development Cell. She ran a campus magazine as well. She pursued a career in marketing for almost a year and a half and then went on to do her Master's in Sociology from the Jamia.
Along with other students, Zargar had participated in several protests against Citizenship Amendment Act since December 2019. While Zargar remains in police custody, her sister, Sameeya Zargar, spoke to Outlook and said she had faith in the India judicial system. Excerpts:
Did you talk to your sister after she was arrested and sent to jail?
No. She could get one phone call with her husband after several applications. Her lawyer also got one phone call the same day.
Did she tell anything about her medical condition?
She mentioned she didn't face any challenges with medical assistance in there.
Do you remember the date when she spoke to her husband and the lawyer?
I don't remember the exact date. It was sometime around last week.
And since then you have had no contact with her? Not even with the lawyer?
The Delhi Police has invoked the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) in her case. It is a stringent law under which getting bail becomes extremely difficult. What do you have to say about it?
All I can say is that she (Safoora) has done nothing unlawful. It is scary that a university student is put behind bars during a pandemic situation and when the entire country is in lockdown.
Do you think her arrest was deliberately timed so?
At this point, I don't know what to believe. We're putting our faith in the judicial system and hoping she'll get bail soonenough.
Do you think the family members should be allowed to meet more frequently?
We, of course, want to meet her. But we understand the COVID-19 regulations. However, a call everyday should be allowed.
When did you meet her last? Did she ever have any apprehension that shewould arrested?
She or her husband had no clue. The police just came to their door on the afternoon of April 12 and took her in. Since then it's been a chase for us.
After she talked to her husband and the lawyer, has anyone from the family or her lawyer made an application to allow a daily call or meeting?
Her lawyer is taking care of it. I haven't updated myself with the new application, if any. You can direct legal questions to her lawyer.
There are reports that she led an anti-CAA protest in Jaafrabad metro station in northeast Delhi a day before the riot broke out. Is it true?
She didn’t lead any such protest. It is a baseless allegation and a false assumption.
Her pregnancy has certain medical complications. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
She has a history of Polycystic Ovary Disease (PCOD) and a urinary tract infection (UTI) which complicate her condition. PCOD is a medical condition which causes a number of small cysts in the ovaries. Apart from that, she was having issues with sleeping and eating. Before they arrested her, I remember all she could eat of meals was bread. Her husband made all her meals out of bread so that she did not starve herself. In Tihar jail, there cannot be such provisions.
That means she needs special care and it is hardly possible in a prison-like situation. Do you think her prolonged confinement will have an adverse impact on her health?
Yes, a jail-like situation cannot be a home-like situation, ever. And a pregnant woman with medical complications, of course, requires special attention. Not just physically, but mentally also. Being inside the jail will take a toll on her mental health which isn't good for the baby.