Granting bail to two persons accused of rioting and attempt to murder during the anti-CAA protests last month, a sessions court in Bijnor, one of the worst affected districts in Uttar Pradesh, has torn into police claims, saying they produced no evidence to show that the accused indulged in firing and arson, that weapons were seized from the accused, or that police personnel sustained any bullet injury.
Court records accessed by The Indian Express show that Additional Sessions Judge Sanjiv Pandey, in the bail order on January 24, pointed out these glaring discrepancies in the police version. “Without making any observation on the merits of the case, in my view, looking at the circumstances and the natures of offences, bail has to be granted to the accused,” he said.
The observations made in the bail order are significant. Bijnor police arrested over 100 people and lodged multiple FIRs, claiming they indulged in violence at Nahtaur, Najibabad and Nagina in Bijnor. Police also admitted that a 20-year-old, Mohammad Suleman, died after he was shot by a constable, Mohit Kumar, in “self-defence”. The family has filed an FIR against six police personnel.
The January 24 bail order relates to the FIR lodged at the Najibabad police station against Shafique Ahmed and Imran, accused of rioting and attempt to murder. The FIR stated “we received information that 100-150 people from Jalalabad had created jam at the NH-74 while protesting against CAA-NRC… the crowd was led by Shafique Ahmed and Imran. The police explained to the crowd. However, the crowd threatened to kill and sat on the National Highway. Imran was arrested on the spot and the other accused person fled”.
Court records show that police claimed they used “minimum force” to control protesters on December 20. “The prosecution, opposing the bail, has argued that the accused has been named in the FIR. There was firing and stone-pelting from the crowd due to which police officials were injured. The police used minimum force to control the crowd. The police also seized .315 bullets from the spot. The accused is facing serious charges and that the bail plea has to be rejected,” the court said while recording the prosecution argument.
The order then records the discrepancies: “I have heard arguments from both sides and have also perused the case diary… only Imran, named in the FIR, has been arrested from the spot. No other accused have been arrested from the spot. The prosecution has also argued that the police official was injured during stone-pelting.”
On the evidence produced by police, it said: “However, no such evidence has been placed by the prosecution, which shows that the accused persons indulged in vandalising shops or setting houses on fire… The police has shown that it has seized .315 bore bullets. However, it has not shown any seizure of weapons from any of the accused persons.”
“According to the prosecution itself, no police official has received any bullet injury. It has shown that police officials have received injuries due to stone-pelting. However, no evidence has been produced that proves that anyone received serious injuries,” it said.
On December 28, an FIR was lodged against six police personnel, including the then Station House Officer of Nahtaur police station, Rajesh Singh Solanki, over the death of Mohammad Suleman. It was filed following police admission that Suleman died after he was shot by police in “self-defence”.
Police did not find any weapon on Suleman. According to his family, Suleman, a final-year undergraduate student who was staying with his maternal uncle in Noida to prepare for the UPSC exams, had come to Nahtaur since he had fever. They alleged he was returning from a mosque after offering namaz when he was held by police, taken to a lane near a madrasa and shot.
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