Muzaffarnagar witnessed violence last month. (File)
Less than a month after police in UP’s Muzaffarnagar accused 107 people of rioting and attempt to murder in connection with the anti-CAA protests, they are struggling to make the charges stick. So far, 19 people have been released on bail, either by police or the court, due to lack of evidence or after charges of grievous offences were dropped.
In the case of five accused, the police themselves granted bail under section 169 of the CrPC, which is invoked when “evidence is deficient”.
Ten other accused were released by the sessions court after police were only able to prove that they had prima facie
violated prohibitory orders, and were not involved in rioting or attempt to murder.
These facts find mention in a bail order passed Monday by Sessions Judge Sanjay Kumar Pachauri who ordered the release of an accused, Shaliheen, a hotel management student of Jamia Milia Islamia University. Shaliheen’s father Mohammed Farooque, who was also named as an accused, was released earlier by police under section 169 of the CrPC. On Tuesday, the court ordered the release on bail of four more accused — Ummaid, Shaukeen, Salman and Israr.
While ordering Shaliheen’s release, Judge Pachauri observed: “The counsel for the accused has argued that, according to the FIR, with respect to accused Jabad Ali, Mohammed Ali, Abbas Raja, Milhal and Mohammed Farooque — the police has filed a report under section 169 CrPC before the competent authority. They were earlier taken under judicial custody on December 21, 2019.”
The judge further observed: “Also, accused persons — Roj Mehendi, Rahbar Ali, Hussain Ali, Mahmood Hasan, Kumail Abbas, Shakeel, Aadil, Shameem Abbas, Adnan and Syed Kambar Abbas — the police, have only been able to prove only violation of prohibitory orders under section 144 CrPC. All the fifteen have now been ordered to be released by the courts.”
Records show that all the 15 listed by the judge are students of a local madrasa. In the second case of the 10 accused, the police had dropped all charges except the one on violation of prohibitory orders linked to section 188 (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) of the IPC.
“The defence counsel has also argued that CCTV footage of the incident have not been provided to ascertain the identity of the accused...the police has also seized the weapons 24 hours after the incident...the police has named 3000 unknown persons, who are still not identified...I have heard both the parties, the bail accordingly granted to the accused,” the court observed.
These release orders stand in stark contrast to the FIR lodged by police on December 21, a day after protests in the district, in which they identified 107 persons and named 3,000 other unknown persons while listing charges under 17 sections of the IPC.
The FIR claimed: “The accused person, present at the Madina Chowk....indulged in rioting...created an atmosphere of terror forcing everyone to shut their shops. They also destroyed public property and indulged in arson. The police officials were also injured and taken for medical examination. The accused also was involved in stone pelting with an intention to harm the police deployed at the spot.”
Incidentally, Shaliheen’s father Mohammed Farooque was released under section 169 CrPC by police after they found that he was present at his office premises, where he works as district employment officer, during the protests.
“The accused (Shaliheen) father was found to be present in his office from 10 am till 5 pm in the government office. On the basis of which, the police has released him under 169 CrPC,” the court noted Monday based on findings in a report submitted by the district magistrate.