A sessions court in Bijnor in Uttar Pradesh has granted bail to two persons, trashing police claims that the accused indulged in firing and arson during protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act on December 20, The Indian Express reported on Wednesday. Additional Sessions Judge Sanjiv Pandey, in the bail order passed on January 24, said the police produced no evidence to corroborate their claims.
“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 two persons had been accused of rioting and attempt to murder.
The Bijnor Police had arrested over 100 people and filed multiple first information reports, claiming that the accused indulged in violence at Nahtaur, Najibabad and Nagina localities. The police also admitted that 20-year-old Mohammad Suleman died after he was shot by constable Mohit Kumar in “self defence”. Suleman’s family has filed an FIR against six policemen.
The bail order relates to the FIR lodged at the Najibabad police station against two persons called Shafique Ahmed and Imran. The FIR claimed that Ahmed and Imran led a group of 100 to 150 people to block the National Highway 74 in Jalalabad on the day of the protest. It added that the protestors threatened to kill the police. The police arrested Imran, while Ahmed fled, the FIR said.
The police claimed they used “minimum force” to control the mob. “The prosecution, opposing the bail, has argued that the accused has been named in the FIR,” the court records said. “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.”
However, the judge then noted discrepancies in the police account. “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,” Pandey said. He added that there was no evidence to prove that the accused indulged in vandalising shops or setting houses on fire. Pandey said that while the prosecution presented the bullets the police recovered, it failed to prove that weapons were seized from the accused.
“According to the prosecution itself, no police official has received any bullet injury,” Judge Pandey said. “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.”
The police had initially claimed that they had not fired even a single bullet at protestors – until figures confirmed by some officials showed that at least 14 people killed during clashes in parts of the state since December 19 had succumbed to “firearm injuries”. Suleman was one of them. Suleman’s family has alleged that the police took him into a lane near a madrassa and shot him. The police did not find any weapon on the deceased.
The Citizenship Amendment Act, passed by Parliament on December 11, provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, provided they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014. The Act has been widely criticised as being discriminatory for excluding Muslims.
At least 26 people have died in protests against the Act, including 19 in Uttar Pradesh itself. The Bijnor Police have also been accused of detaining and torturing minors during the protests.