NL Interview: Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita on prison, state repression, and UAPA

In May last year, student activists Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita were arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in connection with the Delhi riots. One year later, on June 15, they were granted bail and released.

Natasha and Devangana are both students at Jawaharlal Nehru University and members of Pinjra Tod, a women’s collective. In this interview with Nidhi Suresh, they talk about their experience in prison, state repression, and Pinjra Tod’s participation in the citizenship law protests.

“Through this regime over the last four to five years, we have been seeing an increasing repression by this government through the use of various laws, whether it is sedition or UAPA,” Devangana says. “It was quite shocking to be booked under a stringent law like the UAPA which is an attack on the student community and its rising voices, and equally an attack on the Muslim community.”

Natasha says, “One of the things we have learnt through our journey at Pinjra Tod is women’s freedom cannot be achieved in isolation. This struggle for freedom is not in isolation from other struggles.” She describes the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens as an attempt by the government to “change the nature of this country, the nature of this state, the nature of the constitution itself”.

They also talk about the sense of community among people in similar circumstances to their own.

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