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Is Safoora Zargar being unfairly kept in jail while she is pregnant? Here is what the law says

Is Safoora Zargar being unfairly punished? Is her situation unique? Let us try to answer some of these questions.

In February, Delhi saw widespread riots and bloodshed when the anti-Hindu riots erupted. One of the individuals who have been arrested in connection with the riots that occurred in Delhi in February is Safoora Zargar. She is an MPhil student from the Jamia Milia Islamia University and was arrested under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). Of all the arrested accused, the arrest of Safoora Zargar has attracted the most attention because she is currently pregnant.

Recently, her bail was denied by the Additional Sessions judge at the Patiala High Court in Delhi saying it found “no merits” in her application. “I do not find merits in the bail application, it is accordingly dismissed,” said Additional Sessions Judge at the Patiala House Court, Dharmendra Rana, while dismissing the plea filed by Zargar. She has been booked under UAPA for allegedly leading the anti-CAA protests at the Jaffrabad metro station of Delhi in February 2020 has been earlier denied bail on two previous occasions.

It is being alleged, mainly by people from the Left, that she has been targeted unfairly primarily because she is pregnant. Many believed that she should be granted bails on the grounds that she is pregnant and even has PCOS (Poly-cystic ovaries). But is there any merit to the matter? Is Safoora Zargar being unfairly punished and should she be granted bail because she is pregnant? Is her situation unique?

Let us try to answer some of these questions. While one can always make an emotional plea as many have, the law is impervious to emotions and thus, it must be analysed whether the legal system has provisions for such cases, or is Zafoora a unique case that is now creating the outrage.

Can pregnant women be arrested?

The outrage around the arrest and denial of bail of Safoora Zargar almost implies that her arrest itself and then the denial of bail was illegal since she was pregnant. It thus becomes necessary to find out what the provisions of the law says. There is nothing in the law that prevents the arrest of pregnant women and they indeed can be arrested if a case is made out against them. However, the law has provisions on how women are to be treated while the arrest is being done and post the fact.

Apart from the usual provisions like being arrested by a female officer, being segregated from the male prisoners, avoidance of being arrested post sunset etc, the provisions specifically say that all necessary pre-natal and post-natal care should be provided to females who are arrested.

The law also says that restraints should only be used on pregnant women as a last resort. Their safety or the safety of their foetus should never be put at risk. Women must never be restrained during labour.

The circumstances that Safoora Zargar finds herself in is not novel. The jail manual says that proper pre-natal and ante-natal care shall be provided to the prisoner according to the advice of a qualified medical officer. Additionally, adequate and timely food and nutritional supplements shall be provided to pregnant women.

The jail manual

The manual said that even if a prisoner is suspected of being pregnant, arrangements shall be made at the earliest to get her medically examined. The detailed report of the examination is then sent to the Inspector General of Prisons.

Further, the manual says that Gynaecological examination of the female prisoner shall be performed in the District Government Hospital and proper pre-natal and ante-natal care shall be provided to the prisoner. The manual also says that adequate and timely food, including supplemental nutrients etc will be given to the mother.

Will the nutritional needs of pregnant women be fulfilled in prison?

The Ministry of Women & Child Development (MoWCD) states, “The calorie intake and variety of food is to be increased for women prisoners who are pregnant or lactating and require more protein and minerals than usual.” Furthermore, pregnant women shall receive additional milk, sugar, vegetables, fish/meat, curd, fresh fruits and other such things as per the prison manual.

The manual also states, “Pregnant and lactating women should receive advice on their health and diet under a programme to be drawn up by a qualified health practitioner. Inmates should not be discouraged from breastfeeding their children. Medical and nutritional needs of women prisoners who have recently given birth whose babies are not with them in prison, women who have undergone abortion or have had a miscarriage should also be included in treatment and nutrition programmes.”

Numerous other facilities and recommendations have also been made in order to ensure that the health of pregnant women is not compromised.

What about Childbirth and children?

The MoWCD states, “The birth certificate of the child born to a woman in prison should never mention the prison as place of birth to protect them against social stigma.” Lactating women would also received advise regarding their health and diet from a qualified health practitioner. Inmates would also not be discouraged from breast-feeding their children. Directions are also given to the prison authorities to ensure that the child does not face any problems in case he or she is living in the prison with his/her mother.

Is Safoora Zargar the only pregnant women in jail currently?

The answer is definitely not. A pregnant woman in Maharashtra recently tested positive for the Wuhan Coronavirus. Even the fact that guidelines with respect to pregnant women in prison exist should have been evidence enough that the case of Safoora Zargar was not unique as such guidelines wouldn’t have been necessary if there were no such cases.

Furthermore, as per latest records, which happens to be from 2015, 419623 people are in the prison of which 17934 were women. It is not far-fetched to assume that at least some of these women would have been pregnant at some point during their time in prison. And yet, no liberal ever found the time to shed tears for all those women.

In a 2013 article, it was revealed that one pregnant woman delivers a child every 2 and a half months in Tihar jail. Thus, it is safe to say that Safoora’s situation is in no way unique and certainly does not deserve the level of outrage that has come from the Left.

How liberals have reacted to the denial of bail

Liberals have been demanding that she be given bail and after her bail was denied for a third time on Thursday, people are busy claiming that it is oppression of the highest order. They claim it is inhumane that a pregnant woman has been locked up in prison.

Some have said that the order denying bail to the accused is “shameful”.

Sagarika Ghose, allegedly a journalist, claims that the order is ‘remorseless’ and ‘dehumanizes’ a young woman.

Others demanded that Prime Minister Modi intervene personally to ensure that she is given bail. After crying for years that Narendra Modi is undermining an independent judiciary, it does seem rather hypocritical that they are openly demanding that he interfere with the functioning of the judiciary so that the demands of the liberals are fulfilled.

The real reason why liberals are crying so much over Safoora Zargar

Liberals are of the belief that unless people stand by the side and vocally support the most radical elements within the Muslim community, then they are not really liberal or secular. It is this reason that makes them glorify genocidal maniacs such as Aurangzeb and Tipu Sultan. It is the same reason why they are found writing mercy petitions for terrorists.

Claims that their concern is driven by he fact that certain facilities are not available to pregnant women in jail cannot be taken seriously. If it is not present for Safoora Zargar, then it is not present for any other pregnant female inmate. Where is the concern for the others? Of course, it is because they are not radical they are not worthy of defence.

That is how terrorist Burhan Wani became the son of a school master. Intriguingly, liberals who are so concerned about the health of the pregnant Safoora Zargar, without any real cause for concern at all, did not flinch one bit when an infant lost its life after being exposed to the harsh winter of Delhi during the anti-CAA protests night after night.

All of this is just emotional blackmail so that one of their own does not have to face the consequences of their actions. It is just another opportunity for them to cast aspersions on the Narendra Modi government. Or they could even be setting the state for something far more sinister. Because liberals have demonstrated time and again that there is no low they will not stoop to in their defence of Radical Islam.

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OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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