Updated: April 26, 2022 9:36:18 am
Even as a court in Kokrajhar granted bail to Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani on Monday, he was rearrested in a fresh case filed in Barpeta district under various charges including assault of a public servant and outraging a woman’s modesty.
Confirming the arrest, Barpeta Superintendent of Police (SP) Amitava Sinha said a case (81/2022) was registered on the basis of a complaint filed at the Barpeta Road police station by a woman police inspector from Kokrajhar on April 21 — the morning after Mevani was arrested from Gujarat’s Banaskantha district. “He is currently in police custody in Barpeta Road and will be produced in court within 24 hours,” he said.
Mevani allegedly “misbehaved, used slang words and touched her (the woman police officer) inappropriately,” Assam Special DGP (Law and Order) GP Singh told The Indian Express. “The case is now under investigation,” said Singh.
Mevani has been booked under IPC Sections 294 (obscene acts and songs in public place), 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), and 323 (voluntarily causing hurt).
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In her complaint, the woman police officer has said that Mevani “uttered slang words” at her while they were in the government vehicle, on the way from Guwahati airport to Kokrajhar on April 21. When she asked him to “behave properly”, he got “agitated and used most slang words,” she has said.
“He pointed finger towards me, tried to frighten me, and pushed me on my seat with force. He thus assaulted me during the execution of my legal duty of being a public servant and outraged my modesty by touching me inappropriately while pushing,” she has said in her complaint. According to the FIR, two other police officers, including Surjeet Singh Panesar, Additional SP (HQ) Kokrajhar, were present in the government vehicle.
The alleged assault took place when the vehicle was crossing Simlaguri, in Barpeta district. “We carried out a proper investigation after receiving the complaint,” said Sinha.
Mevani’s lawyer and senior advocate, Angshuman Bora, said it was a “completely false and fabricated” case. “There was no mention of this during the arguments in court yesterday… that he has allegedly mishandled a lady police officer. Where has this come up from suddenly?” asked Bora, adding that Mevani would be produced before the Barpeta Chief Judicial Magistrate on Tuesday. “We will now move for bail there,” he said.
Bora said the Barpeta police personnel had arrived with a warrant on Monday morning, but did not divulge further details. “We were not told the context of his rearrest, we just knew the sections because it was mentioned in the warrant,” he said.
Mevani, an Independent MLA who had pledged support to the Congress last September, was arrested by the Assam Police from Gujarat on April 20 following a complaint filed against him by a local BJP leader in Kokrajhar regarding a purported tweet from his account against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In Kokrajhar, he was sent to police custody for three days. On Sunday, he was produced before the chief judicial magistrate’s court in Kokrajhar, which reserved judgment on his bail petition. While the Assam Police had sought 10 days’ custody, Mevani’s lawyers had argued that there was no “prima facie evidence for the charges” against the MLA and the whole case was “concocted.”
On Monday, the court granted bail to Mevani, saying that the statement (Mevani’s tweet) “prima facie does not represent any class, community, religious group of people, race, language”.
“I do not find reasonable ground to hold the accused in detention for the offence under Section 120 B/153 A.of IPC R/W Section 66 of the IT Act only for the sentence that Mr Narendra Modi worships and considers ‘Godse as God’,” the order said. “The IO (investigating officer) can proceed with this investigation even if the accused is released on bail,” it said.
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