The Ahmedabad Sessions Court on Tuesday rejected the bail applications of 27 people arrested in connection with the Shahpur clash.
They have been lodged in jail for nearly three weeks on charges of attempted murder and other sections of the Disaster Management Act and Epidemic Diseases Act. The incident happened on May 8, when a mob pelted stones at a police team in Shahpur area of Ahmedabad after which the police resorted to tear gas shelling and lathicharge.
Their bail was primarily refused on the ground that the act of stone pelting and injuring police personnel broke the morale of the police force and that given the seriousness of the charges, if released on bail, the accused would “give strength and momentum to anti-social elements”.
Additional Sessions Judge Chirayu Adhyaru also expressed the court’s aspersions on the veracity of a video produced by advocate Ilyas Pathan representing the accused. The court in its order recorded that in the video, a woman is heard speaking a language of a different state and that the video appeared to have been shot at night when street lights are seen to be on while the event is otherwise recorded to have occurred around dusk, as per the FIR. The order relies heavily on the FIR and also accepted the public prosecutor’s argument that such incidents affect the “morale of the police” and releasing the said accused on bail would “not be justified”.
The order notes that at a time when the police is “serving without caring for their own life, people are expected to cooperate…whereas the present accused threw stones at the police, and broke the morale of the injured police, as it appears prima facile from the investigation papers submitted by the police.”
The FIR filed on May 8 named 17 persons as accused and charges them under IPC sections 307 (attempt to murder), 120B (criminal conspiracy), 143, 145, 147, 149, 151 (unlawful assembly and rioting), under section 51 (1)(b) (refuses to comply with any direction given by it in behalf of central or state government or the national or state executive committee or district authority under this act) of the Disaster Management Act and section 3 (disobeying any regulation or order issued under this act, shall be deemed to have committed an offence under IPC section 188) of Epidemic Diseases Act and states the time of the incident from 6.15 pm. to 9.15 pm.
According to the FIR, filed by Shahpur Sub-Inspector HB Chaudhary, Shahpur police officials along with SRP officials were foot patrolling in the area when some who were outside were told by the police that they can’t roam around during the lockdown.
The FIR states that “a crowd then started shouting that the police harasses them every day and they need to be taught a lesson,” after which 2,000 persons or so, “ran towards the police and following a criminal conspiracy, started pelting stones, with an intention to kill”, injuring several police persons. The police “had to lob a total of 71 tear gas shells.”
On May 8, 17 men named in the FIR were taken, and the next day, the police detained 12 more. The 29 were then tested for Covid-19 of which one, Mustakali Gulabnabi Sheikh (42) tested positive and was at Ahmedabad Civil Hospital until May 21 and is in home quarantine.
On May 13, 27 of the accused were presented before the magistrate who were then sent to Sabarmati Central Jail under judicial custody. A 62-year-old man, Gulam Ahmed Sheikh, named as an accused was allowed to go home owing to his age.
Most of those arrested were engaged as daily labourers in the local garment businesses.
Advocate Iliyas Pathan, who represented the accused says, “All the said accused were at home and in most cases father son duo were dragged out of their houses. There have been several such incidents of stone pelting reported during this period of lockdown, but in none of them have the accused been slapped with attempt to murder. The FIR says a mob of 2000 persons attacked the police, how is it even possible?”
Pathan filed bail applications for the accused before the sessions court on May 14.
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