A Delhi court on Sunday rejected the bail plea of journalist Mandeep Punia and sent him to 14 days of judicial custody, his lawyers told Scroll.in. The metropolitan magistrate court listed his bail application for hearing on Monday and asked the investigating officer in the case to file his response.
Punia, a freelance journalist, was detained by Delhi Police from the Capital’s Singhu border on Saturday evening. In a First Information Report filed in the early hours of Sunday, he was charged under Sections 186, 353, 332 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code. The sections pertain to obstructing public servants from discharging duty, causing hurt to public servants while discharging duty and endangering human life.
The FIR was filed on the basis of a complaint by a Delhi Police personnel who alleged that Punia was part of a group of people who attempted to break barricades and manhandle constables on Saturday evening. The complaint claimed that Punia and others attacked policemen who were deployed at Singhu border, following unrest between protestors and people claiming to be locals.
Tensions have remained high at the protest site since Friday, when a group of around 200 people barged in despite heavy security, threw stones at farmers and damaged their tents. The group claimed to be “locals” of the area, but the farmers have alleged that the vandals were Bharatiya Janata Party supporters.
The complaint went on to allege that while the others were brought under control by the police by using “minimal force”, Punia continued dragging one of the police constables, who fell in a nearby “naala” (drain). Three constables were injured during the scuffle, according to the complaint.
Meanwhile, Punia in his bail plea submitted that his family was not informed about his detention till late on Saturday. He also pointed out that the FIR was filed seven hours after the alleged scuffle, which he said was significant since he was apprehended at the spot and the complainants and victims were police personnel. He further claimed that there was video evidence to contradict the FIR.
Another journalist, Dharmender Singh from Online News India, was also picked by the police, along with Punia, but he was released on Sunday morning.
Hours before his detention, Punia had posted a video on Facebook, giving a detailed account about the violence at Singhu border on Friday. The journalist spoke about how the group shouting anti-farmer slogans, who claimed to to be locals, had pelted stones at the protest site in full view of the police.
The group demanded that farmers vacate the area and said they had “insulted” the national flag during their tractor parade on Republic Day. Aman Dabas, the husband of BJP councillor from Put Khurd village, Anju Devi, was part of the group.
On Saturday authorities blocked mobile internet services at three protest site. The Union Home Ministry said internet services would remain suspended until Sunday to “maintain public safety.”