New Delhi, Jul 21 (PTI) Stepping out of the house to meet friends during last year's Covid lockdown led Suresh through the darkest episode of his life and put his family in dire straits as he ended up in jail on the charge of ransacking and looting a shop during the northeast Delhi riots.
He was eventually acquitted by a court on Tuesday. But by that time he had spent 10 months in jail. He had got bail on February 25 after being arrested by the police on April 7, 2020.
Suresh's sister Renu claimed that he was nabbed by the police for not wearing a mask when he had gone to meet some friends nearby.
'The lockdown was underway and because my brother was not wearing a mask he was taken to a police station. When my parents went there later in the day, police scolded them telling them the importance of wearing a mask.' 'The next day, they again went to the police station but found that he has been transferred to Tihar. Two months later, we received the charge sheet and to our surprise, we found out that a riots case was foisted on my brother,' she claimed.
The arrest of Suresh, who used to work at a garment factory, snatched from his family a regular source of income.
His father drives a rented e-rickshaw while his mother used to be a domestic help, but after a six-month-long bout of illness last year, she had to give up her work. Renu, a school dropout, is currently unemployed.
'We could not furnish the bail bond of Rs 15,000 for my brother. We just could not afford it,' Renu said.
According to advocate Rajiv Pratap Singh, who represented Suresh in court, the family struggled hard to survive solely on the father's earning, which during the Covid curbs was erratic.
'However, because of the lockdown, the family's expenses were limited. Renu used to get food for the family from the schools where free food was being offered at the time. They managed somehow,' Singh said.
The police had previously said that Suresh, now acquitted, along with a crowd of rioters carrying iron rods and sticks, allegedly broke open the lock of a shop situated in Delhi's Babarpur Road and looted it on the evening of February 25.
On March 9, 2021, charges were framed against him under sections 143 (punishment for unlawful assembly), 147 (rioting), 427 (mischief), 454 (lurking house-trespass) read with section 149 (unlawful assembly) and section 395 (dacoity) of the IPC.
Suresh had pleaded not guilty and claimed trial.
Freeing Suresh Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat on Tuesday said the prosecution has not been able to prove its case against the accused as no incriminating material has come up against him.
Calling it a 'clear-cut' case of acquittal, the judge said there was no identification of the accused, and the testimonies of the witnesses were completely contradictory to each other.
This is the first judgment in the case concerning the riots that broke out in northeast Delhi in February 2020 during the anti-CAA protests.
Trial is underway in many cases related to the violence that killed 53 people.
Over 700 injured people were injured during the communal clashes. PTI TRS NSD