After police failed to produce evidence, a sessions court in Rampur on Friday granted bail to 15 more people arrested for allegedly indulging in rioting during the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protest in the district. The court of district and sessions judge, Alka Srivastava, accepted the bail plea and directed them to furnish two bail bonds of Rs 50,000 each, following which they could be released.
The Rampur district administration ‘secretly’ dropped several serious charges against the protesters from the First Information Report (FIR) last month.
Amar Singh, the investigating officer in this case, had earlier produced two separate applications before the court. While doing so, he had said that no case under Sections 302 (murder) and 307 (attempt to murder) in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) could be made out against 26 out of the 34 arrested for the December 21 anti-CAA protest in which one person was killed.
More than 30 persons were arrested by Kotwali police and sent them to jail under several serious charges of IPC including Sections 147 (Rioting), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapons), 149 (unlawful assembly), 307 (attempt to murder), 302 (murder), 333 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt to deter public servant), 353 (assault or criminal force) and Sections 3 and 4 of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1984. Section 7 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act (CLAA) was also invoked against the protesters.
The bail plea was opposed by the prosecution, while the defence counsel argued that the accused had been falsely implicated by the police and that the people were not involved in the episode. After hearing arguments from both sides, the court granted the bail pleas of Samar, Anas, Raees, Rizwan, Azharuddin, Nazir, Afroz, Shavez, Shahroz, Junaid Khan, Shahnawaz, Faheem, Mohammad Abid, Sagir and Hamza. According to Advocate Sayyed Aamir Mian and Advocate Mohammad Rahman, the lawyers for the accused, the court has approved the bail pleas of all fifteen.
Speaking to NewsClick about the case, defence counsel Syed Amir Mian said that two FIRs were registered in Rampur, one in Ganj police station and the other in Kotwali police station. “The important point is that the police did not arrest anyone from the spot and arrested people in haste at the behest of other people. The ground behind the bail is that (Sections) 302, 307, 395 were dropped during the investigation. I argued the same asking why they removed these sections and why they were booked under these sections when these people were not arrested from the spot,” Amir added.
Amir further said that at least 34 people were arrested in connection with the violence in December in which district administration dropped charges of murder, attempt to murder and dacoity against 26 people. The next hearing is on February 10.
Similarly, last week, a sessions court in neighbouring Bijnor rebuked the Uttar Pradesh police for its shoddy investigation related to the December 20, 2019, protests against the CAA last year. The district court granted bail to 48 people out of 83 after the police failed to produce any evidence of rioting, arson and attempt to murder, the charges under which these people were booked.
Scores of CAA protesters who were arrested by the cops have been granted bail by the courts over the past few days as police failed to produce any evidence to link them with the offences they were charged with.
In many cases, the courts have dismissed allegations by the police saying that there was no evidence to support them.
On December 19 and 20, thousands of people joined a protest against CAA-CAA- National Register of Citizens (NRC)- National Population Register (NPR) in several districts of Uttar Pradesh. As protests turned violent at a few places, at least 23 people were killed—most of them with bullet injuries—in Meerut, Kanpur, Bijnor, Firozabad and other places. Most of them were daily wagers.