Safoora Zargar is a 27-year-old Muslim woman who emerged as a face of dissent and gained global attention for her activism against the discriminatory Citizenship Amendment law (CAA). She was born in district Kishtwar in the State (now union territory) of Jammu & Kashmir and moved to Delhi at a very young age with her family. She completed her Masters in Sociology from Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.
Life and Activism
She was born in 1992 in Kishtwar, Jammu and Kashmir. She moved to Delhi in 1998 with her family, when her father was posted in neighbouring Faridabad.
She graduated with a B.A. in Sociology from Jesus and Mary College, Delhi University, She did an M.A. in sociology at Jamia Millia Islamia (New Delhi), and in 2019 started an M.Phil in sociology with a special focus on urban studies at Jamia Millia Islamia.
According to Delhi Police, she was one of the founders of the JCC, and “was the admin of JCC’s WhatsApp group“.
On February 10 2020, she fainted when she was “caught in a scuffle between the police and students” and was taken to hospital. She was the media coordinator for the Jamia Coordination Committee (JCC), a student group organizing protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which fast-tracks citizenship for all non-Muslim immigrants, and the establishment of a National Registry of Citizens (NRC) in the State of Assam, which has stripped nearly two million Muslim residents of their citizenship in the State.
Circumstances of Arrest
She was arrested on April 10, 2020, by the Delhi Police for allegedly giving provocative speeches and blocking roads at Jafrabad metro station on February 23, 2020, for which a local court granted her bail on April 13, 2020. But immediately, she was rearrested by the Delhi police under FIR 59/2020 and UAPA, an anti-terror law in connection with North East Delhi riots. She was three months pregnant when she was arrested. Her bail plea was denied four times. Hindutva ideologues vilified her on social media by making derogatory Islamophobia, sexist and misogynistic comments. Her arrest was criticised by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention who cited it as a prime example of a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which India is a party.
Charges & Allegations
Safoora Zargar was charged under sections 13, 16, 17 and 18 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) relating to terrorism and funding of terrorist activities. And according to an article in HuffPost, she was booked with atleast 30 sections of the Indian Penal code, including sedition and murder, and two sections of the Arms Act. She has a total of five FIRs registered against her related to the anti-CAA protests.
On her fourth application to the Delhi High Court, she was granted bail on June 23, 2020, and was later released on June 24 on humanitarian grounds. In an article to Aljazeera after her release, in May 2021, she recounted her dreadful experience in the jail while she was pregnant. She said that “the Indian state is afraid of strong women.” She continues to face trial in at least four serious cases and more than 50 counts of charges.