July 14, 2021 1:57:01 am
Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) convener Alpesh Katheriya is all set to walk out of jail after nearly four months with the Gujarat High Court granting him bail in a case filed in Surat in February this year, charging him for rioting and under provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
Represented by advocate BM Mangukiya, Katheriya was granted bail by the court of Justice Ilesh Vora on Tuesday, overturning a Surat court’s rejection of his bail application in May. The detailed order of the HC is yet to be made public.
The FIR filed at Kamrej police station in Surat on February 21 had charged him with offences of unlawful assembly, rioting, rioting with arms, intentional hurt under the relevant provisions of the Indian Penal Code as well provisions pertaining to causing hurt to members of Scheduled Caste/Tribe under the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
The Surat district and sessions court, where Katheriya approached first for bail, noted that he was also charged under Section 3 of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, Section 13(1) of the Gujarat Epidemic Regulation Act, 2020 and Section 51(b) of the Disaster Management Act, 2005.
As per the case details, Alpesh Katheriya, accompanied by over 100 youths, reached the polling station outside Government Primary School in Velanja village in Surat district on February 21 in a rally. The assembly was being recorded by BTP leader Jaykishan Vasava when one person from the crowd allegedly used derogatory words for Vasava’s caste.
In his complaint, Vasava said that those who were at the spot had PAAS skull caps on, beat him up, damaged property and also robbed a gold chain. In the incident, Vasava, his two sons, and two others incurred injuries and were hospitalised at Surat New Civil Hospital.
Arrested on March 15, Katheriya has been in the Surat Central jail for nearly four months. Of the 15 others arrested, Nikhilbhai Shekhda and Mayurbhai Zalavadiya were granted bail by the Gujarat HC in April and May respectively, after Vasava submitted that “the matter is settled between the parties” and filed an affidavit “expressing his no objection if the appellants (Shekhada and Zalavadiya) are enlarged on bail”.
In May 2019, a Surat sessions court cancelled Katheriya’s bail in relation to a 2015 Patidar agitation trial and he approrached the Gujarat HC, which restored his bail following an undertaking stating that he will “observe my best behaviour and refrain from entering into any kind of verbal altercation with any authorities and shall maintain law and order situation and will refrain from entering into any kind of direct or indirect conflict with the police authorities or public administration”.
In the present case, a sessions judge rejected Katheriya’s bail plea in May, relying on his earlier undertaking before the Gujarat HC and failing to comply with the same.
Surat PAAS co-convener Dharmik Malaviya told The Indian Express on Tuesday, “We are hopeful that Alpesh will be out from jail on Wednesday evening or Thursday morning… Four others and I will go to Lajpore jail to welcome Alpesh. We will drive him to Mini Bazaar at Varachha, where he will garland Sardar Patel statue, and then we will drop him at his house. There might be a crowd at Mini Bazaar in Varachha, as it is the busiest area, but we have decided not to invite anybody.”
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