The police in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar city did not seize weapons from anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protestors charged with rioting and damaging public property during the demonstrations on December 20, The Indian Express reported on Thursday. The police told a court earlier this month that they had seized weapons 18 hours later just metres from a police station.
After the violence on December 20, the police booked 107 people for attempt to murder, and arrested 73 of them. The police alleged that the protestors were “armed with weapons” and indulged in rioting and arson. However, the first information report did not mention when and where the weapons were seized, and what kind of weapons they were, according to The Indian Express.
On January 13 and 14, the sessions court in Muzaffarnagar granted bail to 14 of those arrested, while five had been released by the police themselves for lack of evidence. District and Sessions Judge Sanjay Kumar Pachauri observed there was no evidence against the accused in the images submitted to the court.
“The defence counsel has also argued that CCTV footage of the incident have not been provided to ascertain the identity of the accused...” Pachauri said in the bail order, The Indian Express reported on January 15. “The police has also seized the weapons 24 hours after the incident…the police has named 3,000 unknown persons, who are still not identified…I have heard both the parties, the bail accordingly granted to the accused.”
Records submitted by the police to the court, now available with the newspaper, showed that the weapons were seized 18 hours after the incident and “500 metres from the Civil Line police station”. Moreover, no witness was present during the seizure of the weapons as is required by the law.
One of the lawyers of the accused told the daily: “Clearly, people have been falsely implicated. Were the weapons lying near the police station all this while?”
After protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act erupted around the country on December 19, the Uttar Pradesh Police imposed prohibitory orders across the state, arrested at least 1,200 protestors, detained thousands more – including minors – and opened fire in a number of places, leading to at least 19 deaths. Scroll.in reported earlier this week that the police are struggling to substantiate the cases and their brutal response to the protests.