New Delhi: Mahavir Narwal, a senior scientist and a senior member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), passed away on Sunday evening, days after he was diagnosed with COVID-19.
Narwal is survived by his daughter and student leader Natasha Narwal and a son, who has also tested positive for COVID-19 and is reportedly in home isolation.
Narwal, who was also an activist associated with the Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti, could not meet one last time his daughter, Natasha, who has spent about a year in prison after being arrested under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) by the Delhi Police in connection with the Northeast Delhi violence in February 2020. According to reports, Narwal had approached a court on Saturday seeking permission to meet her ailing father. The next hearing in this regard was scheduled to be held on Monday.
In September last year, a Delhi court had granted Narwal bail in another riots-related case, saying that the Delhi Police had no evidence to prove that she was involved in instigating any violence. However, her bail plea in the UAPA case was rejected in January this year by a court.
Mahavir Narwal had earlier expressed unconditional support for his daughter, Natasha, and had said that he is proud of the Pinjra Tod leader’s grit and determination to stand up for the oppressed. Speaking about his daughter’s arrest, he had said, “There is nothing to fear about being in jail. My daughter will cope with positivity and come back stronger.”
In a heart-breaking video from November 2020, Narwal can be heard saying that he is afraid that Natasha – if remains imprisoned for long – may not be able to see her father again ever. He had said, “Sometime, these negative forces, evil forces surround me. She may not be able to see me; after all, I am growing old. I may not be able to see her.”
The CPI(M) expressed condolence following Narwal’s death. It said in a statement, “It is criminal act of the Modi govt that his daughter Natasha Narwal was arrested under UAPA last year and couldn't even meet her father. We demand immediate release of all political prisoners.”
“With Narwal’s passing away, society has lost a brilliant scientist and an intellectual who was filled with empathy and human values,” said a message posted by the Haryana branch of the party.
Author and social activist Harsh Mander took to Twitter to express his grief following Narwal’s death:
Former journalist and RLD leader Prashant Kanojia said, “[Natasha’s] father was killed by this bloody system and Narendra Modi has his blood on hand along with millions (sic.)”
Many others took to Twitter to post condolence posts while criticising the Narendra Modi government for targeting activists for having expressed dissent.
Also watch: There Is Nothing to Fear About Being in Jail: Natasha Narwal's Father