Devangana Kalita is an MPhil student from JNU, a women human rights defender, and a founding member of Pinjra Tod (Break the Cage) a student association which raises the issues of women’s freedom, gender equality, and other social issues. She is best known for her role in the Anti-CAA protests.
Devangana Kalita was born on Friday, 17 June 1989 (age 31 years; as of 2020) in Dibrugarh, Assam. She did a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in English from the Miranda House University Of Delhi in 2010.
Thereafter, she went to the United Kingdom to pursue a Master of Arts (MA) program in Gender and Development from the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex in the UK. After completing her post-graduation in the UK, she came back to India as she has not gone there with an intent to stay back. She returned to Delhi and enrolled at the Centre of Historical Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) for MA in History. At present, she is studying an MPhil at the Centre of Women Studies in JNU.
Hair Colour: Black
Eye Colour: Black
Family & Caste
Devangana Kalita was born into an Assamese family.
Parents & Siblings
Kalita’s father, Dr Hem Chandra Kalita, is a Cardiologist practising in Assam Medical College & Hospital, whereas her mother is a homemaker.
Devangana met her future husband (name not known) while she was interning at Seva Mandir, an NGO in Udaipur. Later, the couple got married in 2014 in the United Kingdom.
In 2015, Jamia Milia Islamia, a Central University in Delhi, altered late-night entry for girls from previous timing of 10 pm and set curfew at 8 pm for the girls living in their hostel, whereas no such restrictions were imposed on boys. Girls of Jamia protested against the decision. Inspired by the Jamia protests, similar protests erupted in other universities and led to students coming out to the streets. A Facebook page by the name “Pinjra Tod: Break the hostel locks” was started by Devangana and her friends. The campaign received an enormous response and women from different areas of India stated sending their stories which they would post on the Facebook page. A movement which initially started online for freedom of women from hostel timings, spread its wings to fight against a variety of social issues prevalent in society. Here is a video where Devanagana discusses the story behind the rise of Pinjra Tod.
Arrest & Proceedings
On 23 May 2020, Devangana, along with her flatmate and another Pinjra Tod activist, Natasha Narwal, was arrested by the police in connection with FIR 48/2020 for their presence in a sit-in protest against CAA-NRC on 22 & 23 February, a day prior to Delhi riots. The next day, on 24 May 2020, a Delhi Court released them on bail saying that there is no evidence against them that shows their role in inciting violence. The court also quashed the non-bailable IPC Section 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty) applied against them saying it was “not maintainable”, and that they were “merely protesting against NRC and CAA.” The release didn’t last long. The same day, a Crime Branch Special Investigation team came up with another FIR (50/2020) which comprised grave charges such as murder, attempt to murder, rioting and criminal conspiracy and sought to arrest them again. The court sent them on police remand for two days. On 30th May 2020, Devangana was re-arrested in the third FIR (250/2019), this FIR was related to the violence that broke out in Daria Ganj area of Delhi. Again, on 2 June 2020, the court granted them bail in the FIR. On 5th June 2020, the Delhi Police again arrested Devangana Kalita and Narwal in a fourth FIR (59/2020) and also slapped the stringent anti-terror law UAPA on them. She was arrested three times in ten days. The Delhi Police accused them of 33 offences including murder, terrorism, rioting, dacoity, criminal conspiracy and sedition. After three months, on 1 September 2020, the Delhi High Court granted her bail pertaining to FIR 50/2020, calling her detention illegal. (Click here to read the Judgement) Devangana is still lodged in the Tihar jail, as the court has not granted her bail in the remaining one out of the four FIRs registered against her.
- While studying at the Miranda House University Of Delhi, Devanagana successfully contested student election as an independent candidate and was elected as the vice president.
- Devangana is never satisfied with the status quo, she always wants to question the system to change things for the betterment of society.
- She takes an interest in poetry, stargazing, and standing by progressive politics.
- She likes to relieve her stress by indulging herself in Artistic activities such as painting.
- Fish, duck, pork and rice are among Devangana’s favourite dishes.