Activist Ekta Shekhar returned home to her 14-month-old baby in Varanasi on Thursday, a day after an Uttar Pradesh court gave bail to her and her husband Ravi Shekhar as well as 56 others arrested for protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens nearly two weeks ago.
The Shekhars, who run the environment NGO Climate Agenda and made national headlines with many voicing concern about their toddler daughter Champak being left alone, were among the 59 people taken into custody during the protests on December 19.
On Wednesday, the court of the additional sessions judge, Varanasi, granted bail to Ekta, 32, and Ravi, 36, residents of Mehmoorganj, and 56 others, ending their ordeal.
Ekta's lawyer Himachal Singh said the court had given bail on a bond of Rs 25,000 each. While she had been released, her husband and others would be out of jail by evening after their paper work was over.
"I didn't think it would take so long," an emotional Ekta told NDTV as she hugged her daughter after two weeks. "Main bata nahin sakti (I can't put it in words)," she said when asked how it felt.
She said it was a matter of pride to be in jail as an activist but, being a mother, each moment felt like an age.
"The 14 days were like exile for me as a mother. Today Champak is very happy," Ekta said after her release.
The bail application of the couple -- nabbed along with other protesters from Left groups from Beniyabagh and nearby localities for violating prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CRPC -- was initially cancelled by a lower court and the next hearing fixed for January 1.
In their absence, their baby was being taken care of by her grandmother Sheila Tiwari, uncle Shashikant and her aunts.