Safoora Zargar Denied Bail Again: Somehow India’s Empathy Doesn’t Extend to This Pregnant Woman in Jail

Social Commentary

Safoora Zargar Denied Bail Again: Somehow India’s Empathy Doesn’t Extend to This Pregnant Woman in Jail

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

Bail was denied for a third consecutive time to 27-year-old Jamia Millia Islamia student Safoora Zargar on Thursday, who has been in judicial custody for her alleged role in Delhi’s February riots that left 53 people dead, and rattled the national capital.

The research scholar is one of the students who were arrested under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act during the nationwide lockdown. The arrests have largely been labelled a witch hunt against dissenters and those who opposed the CAA and NRC.

The court order, and the fact that Zargar was denied bail despite being pregnant and suffering from a number of medical conditions, has led to outrage on social media.

A few noted that a number of people who were caught on camera inciting violence and shooting at protestors faced no fear of arrest, while students were being targeted.

Others pointed out that the same people who shed tears over the death of a pregnant elephant — posts of which had broken hearts the previous day — were not extending the same sympathy to a pregnant undertrail who was denied bail.

Safoora Zaargar’s lawyers have argued that she is an innocent student who is being targeted for her divergent views on the CAA-NRC, and that the investigating agency was creating a fake narrative to implicate dissenting students.

The judge ruled however that there was enough evidence to show that Zargar had been involved in “a conspiracy to at least block the roads (chakka jam).” Her lawyers have argued that she wasn’t in the area, but the judge said, “mere absence doesn’t matter.”

When pointed out that there was no evidence to suggest that Zargar was involved in any violence, the judge of Delhi’s Patiala House court said: “When you choose to play with embers, you cannot blame the wind to have carried the spark a bit too far and spread the fire.” A lawyer said this order was “unconscionable”, sharing a post explaining why:

A few social media users also noted how disheartening it was to see that Manu Sharma, the man convicted of killing Jessica Lal, was released earlier this week despite having been sentenced to life imprisonment, while Zargar was denied bail for a third time.

Earlier in May, after her arrest, Zargar’s pregnancy had become the target of thousands of vile trolls online, who questioned her marital status and shared fake claims about her pregnancy. They faced very little consequences for their vitriol. Clearly, at this point, this country is no place for dissenting students, or, in fact, women.