Pan India

Ishrat Jahan recounts two ‘painful’ years in jail

New Delhi: Ishrat Jahan, the anti-CAA activist, walked out of a prison last week, after she was granted bail on March 14.

31-year-old activist was arrested along with dozens of other Muslims in February 2020 during mass protests against controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) passed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP government in December 2019.

Jahan, a lawyer and former municipal councillor elected from her locality, had organised a female-led protest against CAA and National Register of Citizens (NRC) in East Delhi’s Khureji area. Jahan was arrested on February 26, 2020 from the protest site. Police officers swooped in on her and whisked her away in a vehicle.

The police first charged her with rioting and unlawful assembly and later accused her of being part of an alleged conspiracy to foment religious riots in the capital. Jahan’s lawyer Pradeep Teotia argued before the court that police had falsely implicated her with no evidence to link her with the Delhi riots.

Jahan recalled that she was subjected to “mental torture” during the interrogations. They tried to link her with some people. They showed her photos of different people and tried hard to get a confession from her. Al-Jazeera reported.

Jahan alleged that she was treated differently in the jail from the rest of the inmates by putting her under extreme surveillance.

Remembering the first six months of the coronavirus pandemic, when the government had imposed a countrywide lockdown to curb the spread of the virus, Jahan said, “There were no physical or virtual meetings due to the lockdown. I did not see the face of anyone in my family for months. I was kept in two-week isolation inside a cell at least seven times. Those six months were really painful.”

She said, “I got to know what real hunger feels like. I understood the pain of separation from your loved ones.”

Jahan was granted 10 days’ bail in June 2020, to get married. She returned to the jail on the sixth day of her marriage.

Jahan’s husband, Farhan Hashmi, recalled “Her hands were covered in mehndi (henna) when I said goodbye to her at the jail gate. It was a painful moment.”

Mentioning the many problems prisoners faced Jahan said that most people have no clothes or money. She said they are not allowed to meet their family except for few occasions. And for a five-minute call, they have to wait for months. She expressed concern about the safety of her co-accused, who are still in jail.

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