Bajrang Dal activists in Ratlam have demanded re-arrest of a Muslim youth who was arrested nearly seven months after communal riots broke in the town but quickly released on bail without custodial interrogation.
The right-wing organization had given a call for bandh on Thursday alleging that officials posted in Station Road Police Station did not even take Asjad Sherani in custody and presented him before a magistrate when they could have sought remand and extracted crucial information about his possible involvement in anti-national activities.
The bandh call was withdrawn late on Wednesday after the Superintendent of Police suspended a sub-inspector and an assistant sub-inspector and ordered a probe into the matter. The activists had also demanded suspension of the in-charge of the police station alleging that he was soft even on September 27 when violence rocked the town.
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A Muslim councilor was shot at around noon near Ratlam Municipal Corporation after which the 50-year-old Congress leader’s supporters went on the rampage near the local hospital. Less than two hours after Bajrang Dal activist Kapil Rathod, associated with anti-cow slaughter campaign, was shot dead at his shop. An employee was also shot dead while Kapil’s brother sustained injuries.
The two incidents, which the police said were not related, escalated tension leading to curfew for several days in the town. Five Muslim men were arrested in connection with the double murder. The police said the accused had an old score to settle with Kapil but wanted his murder to look like an attack in retaliation to the attempt on Muslim councilor’s life. The councilor survived the attack.
Asjad was wanted in connection with the rioting near the hospital premises. Ratlam SP Ashish suspended the two policemen for not informing their seniors about Asjad’s surrender or his bail application.
Ratlam-based RSS leader Ratnadeep Nigam told The Indian Express that the police did not even bother to formally arrest Asjad who was wanted for nearly seven months and booked him under minor sections facilitating his bail. Nigam alleged that money exchanged hands and asked “what was the urgency behind producing Asjad before a magistrate on Sunday?’’ He alleged that TI Rajesh Chouhan was soft on Muslims who fired in the air and went on the rampage in retaliation to the attack. He said the police should re-arrest Asjad because he was involved in anti-national activities.
When contacted Chouhan denied the allegation saying Asjad was not involved in the double murder case but only rioting. Other persons involved in rioting have also been released on bail in similar conditions he said refusing to elaborate and denying the allegation about exchange of money.
Incidentally, four years ago SIMI activists released under an amnesty scheme after serving more than half their jail term were re-arrested and made to serve their remaining term after protests by right-wing organizations in Ujjain. Embarrassed by the protests, the BJP government had either suspended or transferred top jail officials and simultaneously changed rules.