Lucknow: Parwez Parvaz, a 65-year-old activist based in Gorakhpur, has been convicted in a 2018 gangrape case. He was a co-petitioner and had moved the Allahabad High Court seeking the registration of a First Information Report (FIR) against Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath for alleged hate speech the 2007 communal riots in Gorakhpur.
The district sessions court of Gorakhpur sentenced him to life imprisonment along with another co-accused.
On Tuesday, a district sessions court convicted activist Parvez Parvaz and Mahmood alias Jumman Baba, and sentenced them to life terms, Parvaz’s lawyer Miftahul Islam confirmed to NewsClick. The court found the duo guilty of a gangrape on June 3, 2008. While convicting the duo, the district judge in his order said that they took the woman to an isolated place in the name of dua-taweez during the month of Ramzan and raped her.
The rape case against Parvez and Mahmood – an occultist – was registered under Section 376 D (gang rape) on June 4, 2018, at Rajghat police station, Gorakhpur. It was after a woman filed a complaint against duo, accusing them of raping her after calling her on the pretext of treating her, in September 2018.
The court also imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 each on both and ordered that Rs 40,000 from the fine be given to the gangrape victim. Details of the judgment are awaited.
Asad Hayat, his co-petitioner in the case, said that the court deprived him of a fair trial and that a legal team would soon challenge his conviction in the Allahabad High Court. “There has been a violation of the principle of natural justice as several facts and evidence in the case presented by Parvaz were overlooked,” Asad told NewsClick.
“Parvaz has been falsely implicated in the rape case and ironically, this judgment came at a time when the transfer application of the judge is still pending before the Allahabad High Court. Due to the lockdown and the pandemic, a hearing did not take place and before this the district judge convicted him," Asad alleged and said the hearing was “biased”.
Asad alleged that the district judge went to meet Yogi Adityanath at the Gorakhnath Temple before giving delivering the judgment. "News of the judge meeting CM Adityanath was carried widely by the local media,” he said.
Parvaz's lawyer, Miftahul Islam, told NewsClick that they would challenge the conviction in a higher court.
“The sessions court sentenced the accused even before the defence submitted its written arguments. They were not allowed and given enough time to argue and we will appeal against the decision in the high court soon," said Islam, adding that the case had no merit.
The case began in 2018, even as Parvaz faced another charge – for allegedly doctoring the CD that showed Adityanath delivering the hate speech in 2007, the lawyer said. He added that Parwaz was arrested in 2018, immediately after the rape complaint against him, and never got bail, even when a bench of the Allahabad High Court had initially ordered a stay on the arrest of the primary accused Mahmood.
Hate Speech of Yogi Adityanath
On January 27, 2007, clashes were reported between members of the Hindu and Muslim community during Muharram processions. It resulted in the death of Raj Kumar Agrahari.
Soon after the clashes – on the same day – Yogi Adityanath, then MP from Gorakhpur, reportedly delivered a hate speech against Muslims which might have provoked the violence.
After the incident, a curfew was imposed in the city. Adityanath reportedly violated Section 144 and delivered the speech outside the main gate of Gorakhpur railway station, speaking of seeking "revenge" from Muslims for the death of Agrahari.
Following his speech, Gorakhpur witnessed a communal riot where two Muslim youths – one from Gorakhpur and the other from Padrauna district, died, even as mosques, houses, buses, train were set ablaze.
On January 27, 2007, the Kotwali Police registered an FIR against Adityanath and others for promoting enmity between two groups. He was arrested, and was kept in police custody for 11 days.
A petition was filed by Hayat and Parwaz in November 2008. The petitioners had alleged that Adityanath’s inflammatory speech sparked the riots. The petitioners had demanded a probe against him under Sections 302, 307, 153A, 395 and 295 of the Indian Penal Code.
After the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in Uttar Pradesh in 2017 and Yogi Adityanath became Chief Minister, the state government refused to sanction his prosecution for inciting communal violence, saying that the evidence presented by Parwaz was doctored.