Amid a chaotic court hearing on the conspiracy case of the Delhi riots, accused Gulfisha Fatima, who joined via video conference from Tihar Jail, said that she was facing “mental and emotional harassment” by the jail authorities.
Speaking over the online din, and addressing Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat of the Karkardooma district court, the 28-year-old MBA graduate said, “Sir, I have a problem in jail. Ever since I was brought here I have been constantly facing discrimination by the jail staff. They call me ‘educated terrorist.’ They tell me, ’you die inside, outside you have orchestrated riots.’”
“Mental and emotional harassment is still going on with me. If I will do anything, if I will hurt myself, only the jail authorities will be responsible for it,” she said.
“Is your grievance against a particular individual?” Judge Rawat asked before turning to her lawyer Mehmood Pracha.
Pracha said that he would move an application, but his client’s remarks should be recorded in the order sheet for that day.
The proceedings then reverted to arguments on how to make available the voluminous chargesheet in FIR 59 of more than 17,000 pages to the accused and their lawyers.
Judge Rawat said that soft copies of the charge sheet were to be made available right away to the lawyers for the accused, and asked Special Public Prosecutor Amit Prasad how the accused would access a soft copy of the chargesheet in prison.
“Computer system is available,” he replied.
Pracha said that as per Indian law, it was incumbent on the state to make available hard copies of the chargesheet available to the accused without any delay.
At least 21 people, including students and activists, who were involved in the protest movement against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in December and January, have been arrested under FIR 59 of the Delhi riots, which invokes the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), India’s anti-terror law.
Former Jawaharlal Nehru University student activist Umar Khalid, the main accused in the case, was arrested on 13 September.
The Delhi Police have filed the chargesheet against 15 accused, and a supplementary chargesheet would be filed against seven others including Khalid.
The students arrested in the case include Asif Iqbal Tanha, a 24-year-old student of Jamia Millia Islamia University, Safoora Zargar, a 28-year-old student of Jamia, Devangana Kalita, a 31-year-old student of Jawaharlal Nehru University, Natasha Narwal, a 32-year-old student of JNU, and Meeran Haider, a PhD student of Jamia.
While most of them have received bail in other cases related to the Delhi riots, the Delhi Police has re-arrested and incarcerated them under FIR 59.
Prominent citizens, academics and even retired police officers, have condemned the arrests of students and activists who protested the CAA and NRC, and called into question whether the Delhi Police is carrying out a fair investigation.
Most of the 53 people killed in the riots in February were Muslim.
The Delhi Police maintains it is carrying out an unbiased investigation.