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India Reacts Sharply to UN Special Rapporteur's Remarks on Incarceration of Student Activists

File photo of JNU student Natasha Narwal.

File photo of JNU student Natasha Narwal.

Mary Lawlor, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, had called their incarceration 'deeply concerning'.

India on Thursday reacted sharply to a UN special rapporteur expressing concern over the incarceration of student activists Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita, saying it expects such experts to respect and have a more informed understanding of its legal proceedings.

Mary Lawlor, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, on Wednesday tweeted, “I’m hearing disturbing reports that WHRDs Natasha Narwal and Devangna Kalita have not been released after @DelhiPolice challenged yesterday’s Delhi High Court decision to grant them bail." “I find their incarceration following #antiCAA protests in #India deeply concerning," she tweeted.

Asked about the UN rapporteur’s observation at an online briefing, Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said he does not have an immediate response to it. However, he added, “I understand that this refers to an ongoing judicial process and we would expect UN special rapporteurs to respect and have a more informed understanding of our legal proceedings."

Narwal, Kalita and Asif Iqbal Tanha walked out of Tihar prison on Thursday, hours after a court here ordered their immediate release in the northeast Delhi riots “conspiracy" case.

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The order came two days after the Delhi High Court granted bail to Narwal, Kalita and Tanha, who were arrested in May last year under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). The three student activists are accused of being the “masterminds" of the February 2020 violence, which left 53 people dead and more than 200 injured.

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