Delhi Violence: Students’ Group Pinjra Tod Under the Scanner

Police accuse Pinjra Tod of instigating protesters to block the road near Jafrabad Metro Station on 22 February

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India
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Delhi Police are investigating women’s students’ group Pinjra Tod in connection with the EV that events that took place in the run-up to the communal violence in northeast Delhi in February.

Police have registered an FIR - dated 24 February - naming some of the activists associated with Pinjra Tod: Gulfisha, Natasha, Subhashani, Devangana, Paroma and Rumsha.

Gulfisha is said to be from the area, while the others came from “outside”. A number of men have also been named in the FIR: Suhail, Adnan, Taslim, Shadab and Guddu Choudhary. They are said to be from the area.

The FIR accuses the group of instigating “300-400 protesters to block the 66 Foota road near Jafrabad Metro Station at 9 PM on 22 February”.

The Blockade

The blockade on the road outside Jafrabad metro station was supposedly done in solidarity when Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad called for a Bharat Bandh on 23 February.

Azad called the Bharat Bandh to protest against the Supreme Court verdict saying that the government is not obligated to provide reservation in government job promotions. However, he later asked for the support of anti-CAA protesters as well.

Many locals in the Seelampur-Jafrabad area say that they were not in favour of the decision to block the 66 Foota road.

The MLA from Seelampur, Abdul Rehman of the Aam Aadmi Party, issued a public appeal requesting protesters not to block the road, expressing fear that it may lead to violence in the area.

The former MLA from Seelampur, Chaudhary Mateen Ahmed of the Congress, also oppose the blockade as did senior community leader Mufti Shamim and activist Ovais Sultan Khan.

Khan has accused Pinjra Tod of putting the lives of local Muslims in danger for their “adventurism”.

In response, Pinjra Tod activists have maintained that the decision to block the highway was taken by the female protesters taking part in the sit-in against CAA, NRC and NPR in Jafrabad.

The next day - on 23 February - BJP leader Kapil Mishra addressed a gathering at Maujpur and threatened to “clear the road”.

Violence began across Northeast Delhi a few hours later.

Pinjra Tod’s Response

Pinjra Tod came into prominence when it led movement in university campuses against restrictions in hostels and paying guest accommodations. It has since given its support to several other causes, the most recent being the anti-CAA protests.

In response to the allegations that it instigated the Jafrabad blockade, Pinjra Tod issued the following statement:

The FIR has charged the activists under several sections of the IPC such as 186 (obstructing a public servant from doing his duty), 188 (disobedience to order), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant), 183 (resistance to taking of property by public authority), 341 (wrongful restraint), 109 (Abetment),147 (rioting),34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention). All the offences are bailable.

Pinjra Tod activists have also been charged in connection with the violence at Hauz Rani in South Delhi on 23 February.

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