Safoora Zargar

Safoora Zargar, a research scholar from Jamia Millia Islamia university, was arrested on April 10, 2020 for her involvement in the Jaffrabad protest, which was organized against the highly discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).


The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Hindu nationalist party led by current Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has been strategically targeting Indian activists and journalists, specifically those critical of the Indian government, since it took power in 2014. The state uses laws like the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) to detain people, many of whom are student activists, without a formal charge or trial.

Activists and human rights advocates have expressed grave concerns over the immense crackdown on free speech in India, according to Wired. Specifically, the UAPA is a tool to silence and remove voices of dissent — especially Kashmiri, Muslim, Dalit, and Adivasi voices of dissent — without the need for evidence. In May 2022, some UN experts spoke out about how many aspects of the UAPA oppose international human rights law and standards. Student leaders and activists were booked under the UAPA following the 2020 Delhi riots, when Hindu mobs brutally injured and killed Muslims and attacked mosques, Muslim businesses, and property. The rioting resulted in 53 deaths, 38 of whom were Muslim, according to Scroll. Thousands were arrested during the riots with over 750 first information reports filed.

Life and Activism

Safoora Zargar was first arrested on April 10, 2020 for her involvement in the Jaffrabad protest, according to AlJazeera. She was about three months pregnant at the time of her initial arrest. She was, along with many other Muslim student activists, targeted for her role in peaceful protests against the highly discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which specifically marginalizes Indian Muslims and left many Indian Muslims stateless. Upon being released on bail, she was arrested again on April 13, 2020, and was charged under FIR 59: this FIR accused 21 people of conspiring to encourage communal violence in Delhi and thus threaten the state. Safoora Zargar was associated with the Jamia Coordination Committee (JCC), which arranged and led peaceful protests in Delhi against the CAA. According to her lawyer, Safoora was kept in solitary confinement while in jail and endured medical and dietary negligence at the hands of prison staff, especially considering her pregnant condition.

Charges and Allegations

According to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, Safoora Zargar was initially charged under the Indian Penal Code for disobedience (Sec. 188 IPC), “assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty” (Sec. 353 IPC), “danger or obstruction in public way or line of navigation” (Sec. 283 IPC), rioting (Sec. 147 IPC), wrongful restraint (Sec. 341 IPC), and abetment (Sec. 109 IPC). Upon being granted bail on April 13, 2020, she was arrested again and charged with new offenses under the India Penal Code, 1967 Arms Act, and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). Charges include rioting (Sec. 147 IPC), rioting with a deadly weapon (Sec. 148 IPC), murder (Sec. 302 IPC), attempted murder (Sec. 307 IPC), sedition (Sec. 124A IPC), “promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony” (Sec. 153A IPC), unlawful activities (Sec. 13 UAPA), terrorist acts (Sec. 16 UAPA), raising funds for terrorist acts (Sec. 17 UAPA), and conspiracy (Sec. 18 UAPA).

Current Status

Granted bail 

Last Update

Safoora Zargar was granted bail on June 24, 2020. A Delhi court discharged Safoora Zargar on February 4, 2023 in the December 2019 case.

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