New Delhi: Mahavir Narwal, a senior scientist and prominent member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), died Sunday evening, days after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
Narwal is survived by his daughter and student leader Natasha Narwal and a son, who also tested positive for COVID-19 and is reportedly in home isolation.
Narwal, who was also an activist associated with Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti, was unable to meet his daughter, Natasha, who spent about a year in prison after being arrested under the strict illicit activities law (prevention) (UAPA) by Delhi police in connection with violence in northeast Delhi in February 2020. According to reports, Narwal approached a court on Saturday to seek permission to meet with his ailing father. The next hearing on this matter was due to take place on Monday.
In September last year, a Delhi court granted Narwal bail in another riot-related case, saying Delhi police had no evidence to prove they were involved in inciting violence. However, his request for bail in the UAPA case was dismissed in January this year by a court.
Mahavir Narwal had previously expressed his unconditional support for his daughter, Natasha, and said he was proud of the courage and determination of Pinjra Tod’s leader in standing up for the oppressed. Speaking of his daughter’s arrest, he said, “There is nothing to fear from being in jail. My daughter will face the positivity and come back stronger.
In a heartbreaking video from November 2020, Narwal can be heard saying he’s afraid Natasha – if she stays in jail for long – may never see her father again. He said, “Sometimes these negative forces, these evil forces surround me. She may not be able to see me; after all, I am getting old. I may not be able to see her.
CPI (M) expressed its condolences after Narwal’s death. He said in a statement: “It is a criminal act of the Modi government that her daughter Natasha Narwal was arrested under UAPA last year and was not even able to meet her father. We demand the immediate release of all political prisoners. “
“With Narwal’s passing, the company lost a brilliant scientist and an intellectual full of empathy and human values,” said a message released by the Haryana branch of the party.
Author and social activist Harsh Mander took to Twitter to express his grief over Narwal’s death:
“Where there is pain, my daughter will be there. I am proud of her.” This hero, Mahavir Narwal, father of Natasha in prison for the CAA protests, supports her, with courage that is hard to find. “I hope she won’t be in jail for so long that she won’t see my face.”
He died a few hours ago from Covid. https://t.co/jB3PSl8oJA
– Harsh Mander (@harsh_mander) May 9, 2021
Former RLD journalist and leader Prashant Kanojia said: “[Natasha’s] father was killed by this bloody system and Narendra Modi has his blood on hand with millions (sic.) ”
Activist Natasha Narwal’s father, Mahavir Narwal, has just died from Covid19. Natasha has been in jail for protesting – under draconian UAPA law, which does not allow bail. His father was killed by this bloody system and Narendra Modi has his blood on hand with millions of people.
– Prashant Kanojia (@PJkanojia) May 9, 2021
Many more have taken to Twitter to post messages of condolence while criticizing the Narendra Modi government for targeting activists for voicing their disagreement.
Modi’s regime tortures feminists, forcing them to be in jail while their loved ones die from Covid-19.
Young @PinjraTod Activist Natasha Narwal is in jail for the crime of protest – under UAPA law which does not allow bail. Her adorable father Mahavir Narwal has just died of Covid-19. pic.twitter.com/LPoM9XmvEm
– Kavita Krishnan (@kavita_krishnan) May 9, 2021
Also watch: There is nothing to fear from being in prison: Natasha Narwal’s father