Activists and civil society groups have demanded that political prisoners be released from jails in view of the surge in coronavirus cases.

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news Court Monday, May 10, 2021 - 12:57

Pinjra Tod activist Natasha Narwal was granted interim bail for three weeks to conduct her the last rites of her father Mahavir Narwal, who died of the novel coronavirus infection in Haryana’s Rohtak on Sunday, family sources said. Natasha was arrested in May last year for allegedly being part of a premeditated conspiracy in the northeast Delhi riots in February that year. She has been booked under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The activist has been lodged in Tihar Jail in Delhi for over a year. She had applied for interim bail for the funeral of her father.

Natasha has been granted bail against a personal bond of Rs 50,000 and on the conditions that she provides her operational telephone number with officers of the Delhi Police and the Rohtak police, reported Bar and Bench. The Delhi High Court bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Anup J Bhambhani directed that she should wear a PPE kit at the time of the cremation and then should surrender before the jail superintendent and also give an RT-PCR negative test report at the time.

Mahavir Narwal, who was suffering from COVID-19, was not able to speak to his daughter, who is in jail. His son, Aakash, who is also COVID-19 positive, was there with him in Rohtak, sources close to the family said.

Left activists and civil society groups had recently demanded that political prisoners be released from jails in view of the surge in coronavirus cases.

“Extend my deep condolences to Natasha and her brother Aakash. The terrible injustice of the system in which a daughter wrongly locked up for a year unable to see her father even for a final farewell, CPI(M) politburo member Brinda Karat said.

Women's rights activist and CPIML politburo member Kavita Krishnan also lashed out at the government and said it was torture forcing feminists to be in prison while their loved ones die of COVID-19.

This is so bloody cruel & sadistic: it's a form of torture to keep political prisoners jailed during a pandemic, forced to suffer not only prison, but the pain of being away from loved ones who are dying. Natasha's brother also has Covid-19, she said on Twitter.

Activist Harsh Mander too condoled Mahavir Narwal's death.

"Where there's suffering, my daughter will be there. I'm proud of her". This hero, Mahavir Narwal, father of Natasha in jail for the CAA protests, supports her, with courage hard to find. "I hope she' not in jail so long she doesn't see my face". He died just hours ago of Covid (sic), he tweeted.

(With PTI inputs)