A district and sessions court in Azamgarh has rejected the bail pleas of 19 people accused of sedition, who were arrested on February 5 in the wake of protests against the new citizenship law and the NRC.
“Considering all aspects of the case and keeping in view the seriousness of the crime”, there is no basis for granting bail, District and Sessions Judge Pramod Kumar Sharma ruled.
The 12-page order noted the sequence of events leading to arrests and recounted the contents of the FIR. However, the grounds for rejecting bail are noted in the last two sentences of the order.
The Uttar Pradesh Police has accused 19 people of raising “anti-national” slogans and rioting, among other offences, during a protest at Jauhar Ali Park in Bilariyaganj police station area. Among those arrested is Rashtriya Ulema Council general secretary Tahir Madni (65). According to the FIR, the 35 persons named in the FIR “raised slogans against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath”, and also verbally abused Hindus.
The 19 were arrested on February 5 and the bail application moved the next day. The pleas were heard on March 12 and the order was reserved.
They were charged under IPC Sections 124-A (sedition), 147 (rioting), 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups), 504 (insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), 307 (attempt to murder), 120-B (criminal conspiracy), among others, and under Sections of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act and The Criminal Law Amendment Act.
The accused cited that they had no prior criminal record, that they were permanent residents of Azamgarh, and that the state police had recovered no weapons at the time of their arrest as grounds for granting bail. However, the order did not discuss any of the circumstances.
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