Devangana Kalita, a research scholar from Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University and one of Pinjra Tod women’s collective founders, had been inclined towards student politics during her days at Miranda House. She hails from the northeastern state of Assam. During her activism against the Citizenship Amendment Act, (CAA) alongside Natasha Narwal, she was slapped with charges under UAPA, FIR 59/2020, along with three other FIRs: 250/2019, 40/2020, and 50/2020. The Delhi police alleged she incited the 2020 northeast Delhi riots, and she was arrested on May 23, 2020. However, due to a lack of evidence against the charges, she has been granted bail in all other cases.
Life and Activism
Devangana is also known to have interned at the Seva Mandir, an NGO based in Udaipur. After that, she moved to the UK to pursue a master’s course in Gender and Development from the University of Sussex. In 2015, Devangana enrolled at JNU to pursue a second master’s degree in History. At JNU, she was a vocal critic of the anti-Muslim policies of the government. In August 2015, she and her friends started a Facebook page, “Pinjra Tod: Break the Hostel Locks,.” Initially a Facebook page, Pinjra Tod later became a women’s movement that advocates for gender equality and women’s social issues.
Circumstances of Arrest
On May 23, 2020, she was accused of a “premeditated conspiracy” in the northeast Delhi riots of February 2020 and was booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. She has also been booked under three more FIRs related to the Delhi riots.
Charges & Allegations
She was booked under UAPA under FIR 59, Section 16 of UAPA, Section 17 of UAPA, FIR 48/2020, Section 353 IPC, FIR 50/2020, FIR 250/2019
She and two of her fellow activists – Natasha Narwal and Asif Iqbal Tanha, were granted bail by the Delhi High Court on June 15, 2021. While ordering their release, the court also criticized the government for “confusing the right to protest with terrorist activity”. It was also reported that the police deliberately delayed their release despite securing the bail. The Delhi Police has moved the Supreme Court against the Delhi HC’s judgment granting her bail where the appeal is pending.