Twenty-four men booked for rioting in Mumbai in the aftermath of the Bhima Koregaon violence in January 2018 will face trial after a sessions court this week rejected their appeal seeking discharge.
The men who are facing several charges, including assault on a public servant, had filed an appeal against a 2018 sessions court order that had rejected their discharge application and directed the prosecution to submit draft charges.
On Friday, the court said prima facie involvement of the accused was seen in the alleged violence, including them having used paver blocks as a ‘weapon’.
The 24 accused, who were booked on charges of unlawful assembly, rioting and causing hurt to a public servant under the Indian Penal Code and other sections of the Government Property Disfiguration Act, claimed that they have been falsely implicated.
While seeking a discharge on the charges of assaulting a policeman, the accused had earlier pointed out that while it was claimed that the policeman had suffered a fracture due to the violence in Chembur area in Mumbai on January 3, 2018, he had obtained an injury certificate on January 5 that year from a Primary Health Centre (PHC) in Jalgaon district, which is 500 km away from the spot of the incident. A case in the matter was registered at Govandi police station.
In its order issued Monday, the sessions court, however, said, “The said evidence needs to be assessed through an expert during the trial to prove its correctness of veracity. Further, specific names of some of the accused were mentioned in the statement of police witnesses recorded during the investigation. Their statements show prima facie involvement of the accused in the commission of the offence. It also shows that the accused have not only used stones but also used paver blocks as a weapon, which may cause danger to the public at large and the police personnel who are discharging their duties to maintain law and order situation in that area.”
The order was made available Friday.
The court has also slated the case for framing of charges against the accused next month.
The prosecution had claimed that a mob of 100-200 people had gathered to protest against the Bhima Koregaon violence.
In its chargesheet, police said, the protestors were chanting slogans against the ruling party and demanding justice. Subsequently, the mob became violent and pelted stones and destroyed vehicles, police stated.
Police also claimed that they lathi-charged protestors and took some of them into custody for assaulting a policeman that caused a fracture in his leg.
Over 600 cases were registered across the state in connection to the Bhima Koregaon violence. In Mumbai, protests were held in several areas, with the maximum cases registered in the eastern suburbs where demands were made for action against those who attacked persons visiting Bhima Koregaon on January 1, 2018.
Recently, state Home Minister Anil Deshmukh has said that a decision on Bhima Koregaon violence, whether to drop the cases or set up a Special Investigation Team to probe the matter, will be taken by next week.
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