The Allahabad High Court on Thursday ordered a CBI probe into the Jawahar Bagh case of Mathura where 27 people, including two police officers, were killed on June 2 last year during a drive to evict squatters. A division bench comprising Chief Justice Dilip B Bhosale and Justice Yashwant Varma passed the order after hearing a bunch of PILs questioning the police’s investigation into the incident. The bench has given the CBI two months’ time to probe the violence and the state government’s “inaction”, and submit a sealed report to the court. While passing the order, the bench observed that the “state government, despite repeated requests for aid from the district administration, maintained an inexplicable and eerie silence.” It instructed the CBI to constitute two teams — one to probe the incident and submit a fresh report, and another to undertake “a comprehensive investigation with regard to the unexplained inaction on the part of the state government to take appropriate and prompt action on intelligence inputs and communications addressed by the district administration”.
The court noted that although a voluminous chargesheet had been filed by the police, the advocate general representing the state government did not demonstrate the “complicity” of the accused.
It further stated that the manner in which the accused were arrested and the recovery of arms have raised “serious doubts” over the “credibility” of the investigation.
The bench pointed out that despite most of the witnesses being government employees, no statements had been recorded before the magistrate. Instead, official witnesses were “forced” to make their statements under section 161 CrPC (examination of witnesses by police) on “instructions issued by superior officers”.
The court also asked why the accused’s clothes were not seized, nor any DNA sampling done. Moreover, the incident site was “neither sanitised, nor was a scientific investigation undertaken”.
The charred body of the leader of the encroachers’ group, Ram Briksha Yadav, was identified on the basis of an occular examination alone, it said. DNA testing was initiated only after hearing of the writ petitions commenced, observed the court.
“We must record here that the learned advocate general more or less admitted that the investigation was flawed and plagued by various evident shortcomings.
His submission towards the end of the hearing for constitution of a Special Investigation Team was in fact a tacit admission of an incomplete and non-comprehensive investigation which had failed to inspire confidence in the general public,” the court observed.
As per the court, the occupation of the park was a “direct affront to the authority of the State”.
The court observed that despite numerous intelligence inputs circulating right from June 2014, no effective steps were taken by state authorities. These reports had documented the “steady increase in the number of encroachers and underlined the growing magnitude of the complexities which the district administration perceived it would face in case it took steps for eviction”.
“They have been detailed in the communication of the district magistrate, Mathura, dated 11 January, 2015, addressed to the principal secretary intelligence (home)…Subsequent communications too fell on deaf ears. The various FIRs lodged also do not appear to have been pursued with vigor. It was a situation which reminds us of the phrase — ‘Nero fiddled while Rome burnt’,” the court further observed.
“Since the role of the state government and its officials shall directly fall for scrutiny and in-depth examination…investigation of this angle also forms a ground for entrustment of the investigation to an outside agency,” it stated.
In January 2014, the state government had granted Ram Briksha Yadav’s organisation Swadhin Bharat Vidhik Satyagrah permission to hold a demonstration inside Jawahar Bagh for two days. However, the group went on to occupy the park for more than two years.
Following a high court order, police tried to evict the squatters, leading to the violence. Arms, ammunition and explosives were recovered from huts erected in the park. The state ordered a probe by a one-person committee of Justice (retd) Mirza Imtiyaz Murtaza, issuing a 2-month deadline, which was extended.
Among those who had moved the court demanding a CBI inquiry are BJP leader and Supreme Court lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay, Mathura-based lawyer Vijay Pal Singh Tomar, advocate IM Tripathi, and citizens Ajay Kushwaha and Kshama Dubey.
Interlocutory applications were filed at a later stage by Archana Dwivedi and Prafull Dwivedi, wife and brother of slain Superintendent of Police Mukul Dwivedi.
Court asks government:
– Why did government not constitute a SIT/SIC for conducting probe?
– Why were no efforts made to identify most of the deceased till the chargesheet was filed and even thereafter?
– Whether the persons who had occupied Jawahar Bagh had patronage and, if not, how could about 3,000 persons stay there for more than two years?
– If they did not have any support or patronage, how were they getting gas cylinders, electric supply, water supply inside the park so as to maintain about 3,000 people in a public park and why were these supplies not cut off?
– Why did the government not take any action despite the fact that a lot of employees working in offices in the park were driven away and those offices were encroached by the unauthorised occupants?
– If the state government was worried about loss of life, why did the district/state administration, including police authorities, allow the figure of 100-200 persons who had initially entered the park to rise to 3,000?
– Why after the arrest of 100 persons within less than 12 hours, were no efforts made to arrest other persons named earlier in various reports submitted by the district administration to the state government?
– Why, despite reports submitted by the district administration to the state government from time to time naming some to be the main persons, including Ram Briksh Yadav, were efforts not made to arrest those persons?
– Whether those persons have political patronage even now, and if yes, who are the persons trying to protect them?
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines