Two days after being granted bail, Pinjra Tod activists Natasha Narwal, Devangana Kalita and Students’ Islamic Organisation activist Asif Iqbal Tanha walked out of Tihar prison in Delhi. They were arrested in May last year under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
They were in jail despite the bail order by the Delhi High Court. Following this, the Delhi court ordered their immediate release earlier today.
“Very happy with bail order; for many months we couldn't believe we're in jail under such charges,” Natasha said.
"They are trying to suppress the voice of people and dissent. We got a lot of support from people which helped us survive inside (jail)," Kalita said.
"...still we were inside jail. I almost kept expecting that some police officers will come and arrest me," she added.
Director General (Delhi Prisons) Sandeep Goel confirmed that all three have been released.
A senior jail official said Kalita and Narwal were released around 7 pm and Tanha around 7.30 pm.
The three student activists were not released from the prison on time over delays in verifying their addresses and sureties.
In its order for the immediate release of the trio, the Delhi court said the delay in the verification process by the police could not be a plausible reason for the accused to be kept imprisoned.
After securing bail from the high court, the activists had moved the trial court, seeking immediate release from prison.
When the trial court deferred the order on their plea for Thursday, they moved the Delhi High Court, which ordered the lower court to proceed with the issue with "promptitude and expedition".
The three student activists were arrested in May 2020 and are accused of being the "masterminds" of the February 2020 violence, which left 53 people dead and more than 200 injured.
The high court, while granting them bail on June 15, had observed that "in an anxiety to suppress dissent, the state has blurred the line between right to protest and terrorist activity" and if such a mindset gains traction, it would be a "sad day for democracy".
The Delhi Police has, however, moved the Supreme Court, challenging the high court judgement granting them bail in the case.
With PTI inputs