After Uttar Pradesh Police failed to produce any evidence even after a month, a sessions court in Bijnor granted bail to two men accused of rioting and attempt to murder during protests against CAA-NRC last month.
The court rebuffed the Bijnor Police’s claims that the accused had resorted to violent attacks, stating that “it had failed to produce any evidence to show that the accused possessed weapons and indulged in firing and arson, or that police personnel sustained any bullet injury during the protests”.
According to the court records, additional sessions Judge Sanjiv Pandey, in the bail order on January 24, pointed out these glaring discrepancies in the police version. “The prosecution has argued that the police official was injured during stone-pelting. However, no such evidence has been placed by the prosecution to show that the accused persons indulged in vandalising shops or setting houses on fire… The police has shown that it has seized .315 bore bullets. However, it has not shown any seizure of weapons from any of the accused persons. According to the prosecution itself, no police official has received any bullet injury. I have been told that police officials have received injuries due to stone-pelting however, no evidence has been produced that proves that anyone sustained serious injuries," the judge said.
The court noted that only one of the accused persons namely, Imran, was named in the FIR and had been arrested from the spot. No other accused were named in the FIR or arrested from the spot.
Meanwhile, during the course of hearing, the prosecution claimed that it used "minimum force" to put down the protests.
Also read: Bijnor: Police Bullet That Killed Suleman Was Fired in ‘Self Defence’, Says Official
It should also be noted that UP Police admitted that their bullets killed Mohammad Suleman, shot by constable Mohit Kumar in "self-defence”. Later, Suleman's family lodged an FIR against six police personnel, including the then Station House Officer (SHO) of Nehtaur police station, Rajesh Singh Solanki, over the death of Mohammad Suleman.
Commenting over the bail granted by the sessions court, Ali Zaidi, a Delhi-based lawyer practicing with the Supreme Court, told NewsClick, "In fact, the judge said in the bail order that to arrest anyone without evidence is to suppress their voice. This is the victory of people and the real face of district administration has been exposed. This is not a first, UP Police and Yogi government will be exposed in many cases. The duo, who were granted bail in Bijnor, were not involved in any violence and police could not produce any evidence. In Meerut, several of thosee killed in police firing did not know who is the President of India, leave alone CAA. There were those who can hardly manage two square meals. It is a clear cut case of target killing by UP Police."
Zaidi, who is handling the case of Aleem Ansari of Meerut and four others who died of gunshot injuries on December 20 during CAA and NRC protests, further argued, “Who will be held accountable for presenting innocent people as accused without evidence and for forcing them to spend so many days in jail? Such officers should be given severe punishment so that they cannot target innocents anymore."
Also read: Bijnor: Families of 2 Youth Killed Say There Were no Doctors in Nehtaur on Dec 20
Notably, no weapon was found on Suleman. According to his family, Suleman was a final-year undergraduate student who was staying with his maternal uncle in Noida and was preparing for civil services and had come to Nahtaur since he had a fever. They said that he was returning from a mosque after offering juma namaz (Friday prayers) when he was dragged by the police, taken to a lane near a madrasa and shot from a close range.
NewsClick also approached Afzal Ahmed (Suleman’s maternal uncle), who is providing legal assistance to the family. Responding to the judgement, he said, "From day one, we are saying that Suleman was innocent and he was not involved in any protest, police killed him in a cold blooded murder and they must be booked for killing him."
The Bijnor police had arrested more than 100 people and lodged multiple FIRs, claiming that they were involved in damaging public property, injuring policemen and violence in Nehtaur, Najibabad and Nagina in Bijnor.
Also read: Who Were 23 People Killed in UP During Anti-CAA-NRC Protests?