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Muslim man alleges torture in police custody in Bengaluru

Deputy Commissioner of Police (Whitefield) has asked for “a report from the Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP)” after youth loses arm to infected wound

02 Dec 2021

salman
Image: https://clarionindia.net

The Deputy Commissioner of Police (Whitefield) D Devaraj has sought a report from the Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) in the Varthur jurisdiction after a Muslim man identified as Salman alleged his “hand was amputated” after the inuried sustained during his “torture in police custody” got severely infected. DCP Devaraj was quoted by Indian Express saying that he was informed that Salman “was detained in a theft case. Information on whether Salman was assaulted and whether he was detained for three days will be known as the ACP is now conducting an inquiry into the incident.” 

However, the results of the inquiry will not restore the right arm of 22-year-old Salman, who according to the news report, was detained in connection with a car battery theft case for three days in the Varthur police station after he was “picked up by the police'' on October 27. Recently, Salman has had to undergo a surgery at a private hospital in Bengaluru for amputation of his right arm as it was “infected after he was allegedly beaten severely in police custody,” he was quoted by IE.

Before the Covid wave hit, Salman was working at a chicken shop but was now unemployed. Salman alleged he was “picked up by the policemen in plain clothes, who came in a private vehicle with a Kerala state registration number” adding that he was taken to the Varthur police station and “was assaulted mercilessly by three men. I confessed to stealing three car batteries. They took me to the people to whom I had sold the batteries. I was again brought to the police station and asked to confess to other thefts which I had not committed.” 

Salman added, “I was tied upside down and beaten badly. Three cops assaulted me for three days. They targeted one body part at a time. They beat my right hand and also kicked in their legs one after the other. My pleadings went unheard,” Salman told IE. He was released from police custody on October 31, but was in pain and recalled, “I came back home and took painkillers assuming it was pain. But as days passed, my hand started to lose strength and the injury worsened. My family took me to a hospital in Sarjapura where doctors said the arm had to be amputated.” 

Salman’s cousin Waseem added that the family consulted the Hosmat Hospital and were told a surgery was crucial to save his life, “We had no choice but to go ahead with the operation on November 8.” His mother Shabina said the family were not aware he had been taken away by the police, “We rushed to the Varthur police station and they said they had not detained anyone by the name of Salman.”

THe allegations are eerily similar to other cases where victims, or their families have reported police excesses leading to devastating consequences. Just a month ago, in 

Uttar Pradesh a young man died on return from police questioning. The family alleged custodial torture. According to the family, Jitender Kumar was allegedly tortured in custody, and once released he died last during treatment. However, Kanpur DCP BBGTS Murthy, told the media that the victim’s family has accused "some" people. He adds that he was told there were cops from some other area which is being investigated. He asserts that the victim’s family has “not blamed” the local police.

SabrangIndia had reported on the shocking statistics that  came to light during the Budget Session of Parliament this year, from  2019 to 2020, a total of 112 deaths in police custody have been registered according to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). From 2020 to 2021, a whopping 1,645 cases of judicial custodial deaths were reported. As per the latest data revealed during the budget session, (from 2020 to February 28, 2021), a staggering 11,955 human rights violation cases have already been registered against the Police. But what’s more astonishing is that not one single police officer has been convicted of a crime since 2005 to 2018 according to the National Campaign Against Torture 2019 report. Of the 125 deaths in police custody documented by the NCAT in 2019, 60 percent were from poor and marginalised communities, including 13 Dalit/tribal victims and 15 Muslims.

 

Related:

Uttar Pradesh: Young man dies on return from police questioning, family alleges torture

UP: How did a 5.6 foot Altaf ‘hang himself’ to death from a 2 foot pipe in a police lockup toilet? 

UP: Muslim man accused of kidnapping Hindu girl dies in police custody

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Muslim man alleges torture in police custody in Bengaluru

Deputy Commissioner of Police (Whitefield) has asked for “a report from the Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP)” after youth loses arm to infected wound

salman
Image: https://clarionindia.net

The Deputy Commissioner of Police (Whitefield) D Devaraj has sought a report from the Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) in the Varthur jurisdiction after a Muslim man identified as Salman alleged his “hand was amputated” after the inuried sustained during his “torture in police custody” got severely infected. DCP Devaraj was quoted by Indian Express saying that he was informed that Salman “was detained in a theft case. Information on whether Salman was assaulted and whether he was detained for three days will be known as the ACP is now conducting an inquiry into the incident.” 

However, the results of the inquiry will not restore the right arm of 22-year-old Salman, who according to the news report, was detained in connection with a car battery theft case for three days in the Varthur police station after he was “picked up by the police'' on October 27. Recently, Salman has had to undergo a surgery at a private hospital in Bengaluru for amputation of his right arm as it was “infected after he was allegedly beaten severely in police custody,” he was quoted by IE.

Before the Covid wave hit, Salman was working at a chicken shop but was now unemployed. Salman alleged he was “picked up by the policemen in plain clothes, who came in a private vehicle with a Kerala state registration number” adding that he was taken to the Varthur police station and “was assaulted mercilessly by three men. I confessed to stealing three car batteries. They took me to the people to whom I had sold the batteries. I was again brought to the police station and asked to confess to other thefts which I had not committed.” 

Salman added, “I was tied upside down and beaten badly. Three cops assaulted me for three days. They targeted one body part at a time. They beat my right hand and also kicked in their legs one after the other. My pleadings went unheard,” Salman told IE. He was released from police custody on October 31, but was in pain and recalled, “I came back home and took painkillers assuming it was pain. But as days passed, my hand started to lose strength and the injury worsened. My family took me to a hospital in Sarjapura where doctors said the arm had to be amputated.” 

Salman’s cousin Waseem added that the family consulted the Hosmat Hospital and were told a surgery was crucial to save his life, “We had no choice but to go ahead with the operation on November 8.” His mother Shabina said the family were not aware he had been taken away by the police, “We rushed to the Varthur police station and they said they had not detained anyone by the name of Salman.”

THe allegations are eerily similar to other cases where victims, or their families have reported police excesses leading to devastating consequences. Just a month ago, in 

Uttar Pradesh a young man died on return from police questioning. The family alleged custodial torture. According to the family, Jitender Kumar was allegedly tortured in custody, and once released he died last during treatment. However, Kanpur DCP BBGTS Murthy, told the media that the victim’s family has accused "some" people. He adds that he was told there were cops from some other area which is being investigated. He asserts that the victim’s family has “not blamed” the local police.

SabrangIndia had reported on the shocking statistics that  came to light during the Budget Session of Parliament this year, from  2019 to 2020, a total of 112 deaths in police custody have been registered according to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). From 2020 to 2021, a whopping 1,645 cases of judicial custodial deaths were reported. As per the latest data revealed during the budget session, (from 2020 to February 28, 2021), a staggering 11,955 human rights violation cases have already been registered against the Police. But what’s more astonishing is that not one single police officer has been convicted of a crime since 2005 to 2018 according to the National Campaign Against Torture 2019 report. Of the 125 deaths in police custody documented by the NCAT in 2019, 60 percent were from poor and marginalised communities, including 13 Dalit/tribal victims and 15 Muslims.

 

Related:

Uttar Pradesh: Young man dies on return from police questioning, family alleges torture

UP: How did a 5.6 foot Altaf ‘hang himself’ to death from a 2 foot pipe in a police lockup toilet? 

UP: Muslim man accused of kidnapping Hindu girl dies in police custody

With thinning patience, SC recommends HC judge to monitor Lakhimpur Kheri probe

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MEA lashes out against OHCHR comment on Khurram Parvez’s arrest

Arindam Bagchi, spokesperson, Ministry of External Affairs defends Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, says OHCHR doesn’t understand the security challenges of Jammu and Kashmir

02 Dec 2021

Khurram parvez

Soon after the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) expressed concern over the arrest of a prominent Kashmiri rights activist Khurram Parvez under the stringent anti-terror law the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA), India has rejected the claims and defended use of UAPA. Arindam Bagchi, the spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), has reportedly said that the OHCHR’s comment  "betrays" a lack of understanding of the security challenges in Jammu and Kashmir, due to cross-border terrorism.

UN Human Rights Office spokesperson Rupert Colville had on Wednesday stated, “We are deeply concerned at the arrest of Kashmiri human rights defender Khurram Parvez under Indian counter-terrorism legislation, the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA),” adding that the “UAPA empowers the authorities to designate individuals and organisations as terrorists, based on imprecise criteria, contains a vague and overly broad definition of ‘terrorist act’, allows people to be held in lengthy pre-trial detention and makes securing bail very difficult. It raises serious concerns relating to the right of presumption of innocence along with other due process and fair trial rights. The Act is also increasingly being used to stifle the work of human rights defenders, journalists and other critics in Jammu and Kashmir and other parts of India.” 

However, on Thursday, the MEA spokesperson was quoted by multiple news media as saying, “The arrest and subsequent detention of the individual referred to in the statement was done entirely as per the provisions of law," adding, "Authorities in India act against violations of law and not against legitimate exercise of rights. All such actions are strictly in accordance with the law." 

The MEA spokesperson said the OHCHR’s concerns were "baseless and unfounded" and “also betrays a complete lack of understanding” of the of the security challenges “faced by India from cross-border terrorism and its impact on the most fundamental human right, 'the right to life' of our citizens, including in Jammu and Kashmir."

The OHCHR had reiterated its call for the UAPA to be “amended to bring it into line with international human rights law and standards,” and urged the authorities, “Pending the law’s amendment, to refrain from using this or other laws unduly restricting freedom of expression in cases involving civil society, media, and human rights defenders.” The UN Human Rights Office also put on record that it was “increasingly alarmed by the rise in killings of civilians, including members of religious minorities, by armed groups in Indian-administered Kashmir this year. At the same time, civilians have been killed by security forces in the course of counter-terrorism operations, and their bodies on occasion disposed in secret. One of these incidents happened on 15 November when four people were killed in a reported gunfight in Srinagar’s Hyderpora area, including two civilians.” 

However, Bagchi has said that OHCHR’s stand was biased as it referring to “proscribed terrorist organisations” as 'armed groups'. Defending UAPA, Bagchi stated that it was “enacted by Parliament to protect the sovereignty of India and ensure the security of its citizens."

Hailing Parvez as “a tireless advocate for families of the disappeared," the OHCHR had also said that Parvez "has been targeted before for his human rights work. In 2016, he was detained under another controversial law, the Public Safety Act, for two and a half months after being prevented from travelling to the Human Rights Council in Geneva. He was released after the Jammu and Kashmir High Court declared his detention illegal.” It also asked “Indian authorities to fully safeguard his right to freedom of expression, association and personal liberty and to take the precautionary step of releasing him” and expressed its concern at “signs of a wider crackdown on civil society actors in Jammu and Kashmir.”

The entire OHCHR statement may be read here.

The entire MEA statement may be read here.

Meawnhile, the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), a global network of more than 200 non-governmental organisations or NGOs, had also stated that it was “deeply concerned about the high risk of torture while in custody.” It also added that “Parvez’s arbitrary arrest and detention is the latest in a long list of human rights violations by Indian authorities against civil society groups, human rights activists, and media outlets in Jammu and Kashmir. The authorities have not ensured accountability for extrajudicial killings and other grave abuses by security forces in Kashmir but have instead arrested those who speak out for justice and human rights.”

The OMCT also asked Indian authorities to “immediately and unconditionally release Parvez and others arrested in politically motivated cases and drop all charges against them,” and “amend the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act to bring it in line with international human rights law and standards and pending its amendment, it should stop using it to target human rights defenders, critics of the government, and others exercising their basic human rights.”

Related:

Khurram Parvez’s arrest is another attempt to silence dissenters: PUCL

Kashmir based human rights activist Khurram Parvez arrested

Counter-terror raids on civil society groups signal escalating crackdown on dissent: 

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MEA lashes out against OHCHR comment on Khurram Parvez’s arrest

Arindam Bagchi, spokesperson, Ministry of External Affairs defends Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, says OHCHR doesn’t understand the security challenges of Jammu and Kashmir

Khurram parvez

Soon after the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) expressed concern over the arrest of a prominent Kashmiri rights activist Khurram Parvez under the stringent anti-terror law the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA), India has rejected the claims and defended use of UAPA. Arindam Bagchi, the spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), has reportedly said that the OHCHR’s comment  "betrays" a lack of understanding of the security challenges in Jammu and Kashmir, due to cross-border terrorism.

UN Human Rights Office spokesperson Rupert Colville had on Wednesday stated, “We are deeply concerned at the arrest of Kashmiri human rights defender Khurram Parvez under Indian counter-terrorism legislation, the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA),” adding that the “UAPA empowers the authorities to designate individuals and organisations as terrorists, based on imprecise criteria, contains a vague and overly broad definition of ‘terrorist act’, allows people to be held in lengthy pre-trial detention and makes securing bail very difficult. It raises serious concerns relating to the right of presumption of innocence along with other due process and fair trial rights. The Act is also increasingly being used to stifle the work of human rights defenders, journalists and other critics in Jammu and Kashmir and other parts of India.” 

However, on Thursday, the MEA spokesperson was quoted by multiple news media as saying, “The arrest and subsequent detention of the individual referred to in the statement was done entirely as per the provisions of law," adding, "Authorities in India act against violations of law and not against legitimate exercise of rights. All such actions are strictly in accordance with the law." 

The MEA spokesperson said the OHCHR’s concerns were "baseless and unfounded" and “also betrays a complete lack of understanding” of the of the security challenges “faced by India from cross-border terrorism and its impact on the most fundamental human right, 'the right to life' of our citizens, including in Jammu and Kashmir."

The OHCHR had reiterated its call for the UAPA to be “amended to bring it into line with international human rights law and standards,” and urged the authorities, “Pending the law’s amendment, to refrain from using this or other laws unduly restricting freedom of expression in cases involving civil society, media, and human rights defenders.” The UN Human Rights Office also put on record that it was “increasingly alarmed by the rise in killings of civilians, including members of religious minorities, by armed groups in Indian-administered Kashmir this year. At the same time, civilians have been killed by security forces in the course of counter-terrorism operations, and their bodies on occasion disposed in secret. One of these incidents happened on 15 November when four people were killed in a reported gunfight in Srinagar’s Hyderpora area, including two civilians.” 

However, Bagchi has said that OHCHR’s stand was biased as it referring to “proscribed terrorist organisations” as 'armed groups'. Defending UAPA, Bagchi stated that it was “enacted by Parliament to protect the sovereignty of India and ensure the security of its citizens."

Hailing Parvez as “a tireless advocate for families of the disappeared," the OHCHR had also said that Parvez "has been targeted before for his human rights work. In 2016, he was detained under another controversial law, the Public Safety Act, for two and a half months after being prevented from travelling to the Human Rights Council in Geneva. He was released after the Jammu and Kashmir High Court declared his detention illegal.” It also asked “Indian authorities to fully safeguard his right to freedom of expression, association and personal liberty and to take the precautionary step of releasing him” and expressed its concern at “signs of a wider crackdown on civil society actors in Jammu and Kashmir.”

The entire OHCHR statement may be read here.

The entire MEA statement may be read here.

Meawnhile, the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), a global network of more than 200 non-governmental organisations or NGOs, had also stated that it was “deeply concerned about the high risk of torture while in custody.” It also added that “Parvez’s arbitrary arrest and detention is the latest in a long list of human rights violations by Indian authorities against civil society groups, human rights activists, and media outlets in Jammu and Kashmir. The authorities have not ensured accountability for extrajudicial killings and other grave abuses by security forces in Kashmir but have instead arrested those who speak out for justice and human rights.”

The OMCT also asked Indian authorities to “immediately and unconditionally release Parvez and others arrested in politically motivated cases and drop all charges against them,” and “amend the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act to bring it in line with international human rights law and standards and pending its amendment, it should stop using it to target human rights defenders, critics of the government, and others exercising their basic human rights.”

Related:

Khurram Parvez’s arrest is another attempt to silence dissenters: PUCL

Kashmir based human rights activist Khurram Parvez arrested

Counter-terror raids on civil society groups signal escalating crackdown on dissent: 

NIA Raids Day 2: Fresh searches conducted in Srinagar and Delhi today

Srinagar: NIA raids human rights defenders, NGOs, media house in terror funding probe

UN raises concerns about attacks on Human Rights Defenders

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Assam: Prime suspect in AASU leader’s lynching dies mysteriously in custody

Police claim Neeraj Kumar Das died in a road accident while trying to flee while being transported by the police

02 Dec 2021

AASU
Image Courtesy:indiatoday.in

On Monday, November 29, All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) leader Animesh Bhuyan and two of his acquaintances were attacked by a mob in Jorhat in Assam. 28-year-old Bhuyan, who was the education secretary of AASU’s Brahmaputra Anchalik Committee in Golaghat district, died in hospital soon afterwards while being treated for his injuries. On Wednesday, the main accused in his lynching, a man named Neeraj Kumar Das was also killed after been run over by a vehicle, when he allegedly jumped out of the police vehicle transporting him. His family suspects this was an extra-judicial killing.

According to Jorhat Police, “Niraj Das @ Kola Lora jumped off from police car on way to recover concealed NDPS material but was hit by trailing escort car. 03 policemen also got severe injuries and under treatment. Niraj Das was declared brought dead at JMCH.”

According to The Telegraph, the incident took place at 2 A.M in an area that falls under the jurisdiction of the Cinnamara police outpost, which is around 11 kilometers from the Jorhat police station and about 300km northeast of Guwahati. The vehicles were driving along the Mariani road. Das was declared "brought dead" at the Jorhat Medical College and Hospital.

The mob-lynching on Monday

On November 29, Animesh Bhuyan and two others were lynched by a mob after a perceived altercation with a scooterist. According to the police, Bhuyan and the other two people had tried to help the “elderly ad inebriated” scooterist after he fell off his two-wheeler, reported The Telegraph. But the scooterist accused the trio of hitting his vehicle and knocking him over in the first place. This enraged people nearby and they physically assaulted the trio. Among the assailants was 34-year-old fish seller Neeraj Kumar Das, who was the son of the scooterist.

Arrests, protests and court appearances

13 people were arrested the following day and soon police started telling media persons that Neeraj Kumar Das was a “habitual offender” who had several drugs-related cases against him, and that Bhuyan’s vehicle had not hit his father’s scooter. Das was booked under section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code.

Meanwhile, AASU leader Dipanka Nath led a delegation to the Jorhat police demanding a swift trial and compensation for victims. AASU held a demonstration outside the Deputy Commissioner’s office from 10:30 A.M to 1:30 P.M, reported TT.

Interestingly, Das was not among the 12 people presented before the court who were remanded to judicial custody on Tuesday. He was to be presented before a court on Wednesday. Before that the police took him to a spot to reportedly recover a stash of drugs. This was when the accident occurred.

Family suspects foul play

Das’s sister-in-law told Indian Express that the family suspects his death to be a “planned murder”. She asked, “We do not believe what police are saying, that he wanted to flee. Under so much security, how could he?”

AASU demands separate law for mob lynching cases

It is noteworthy that AASU is one of the most influential organisations in Assam given its history of participating in the Assam movement that led to the signing of the Assam Accord. AASU has also been at the forefront of demanding reverification of the National Register of Citizens (NRC). They have also been demanding a separate law to deal with cases of mob-lynching in the state.

Nath was quoted by TT as saying, “Lynching cases have been rising in Assam. We have had at least four-five cases, including the lynchings of Dr Deben Dutta and Debashish Gogoi, in the past couple of years. Before that we had the Jhankar Saikia case in 2013.” Nath gave the example of Bhuyan’s death to demand a separate law saying, “Animesh had tried to help the scooterist. A separate law and speedy trial and sentencing are required to check such incidents.”

The impact of Bhuyan’s death and AASU’s influence was clear when Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma ordered the police to file a chargesheet within a month and that the case would be tried in a fast-track court. Tweeting in Assamese on November 30, CM Sarma said, “We are deeply saddened by the untimely and tragic death of a young man named Animesh Bhuiyan in a tragic incident in Jorhat.” He added, “All those identified as involved in the incident have already been arrested. We are instructing the administration to provide for the punishment of the guilty in the fast-track court. We have directed the Director General of Special Police, Shri GP Singh, to personally supervise the investigation into the incident and submit the chargesheet within a month.”

Related:

AASU and Assam Gov’t agree to push for NRC reverification again
Gauhati HC asks Centre and Assam State gov’t to indicate stand on funding for Legal Aid

Assam: Prime suspect in AASU leader’s lynching dies mysteriously in custody

Police claim Neeraj Kumar Das died in a road accident while trying to flee while being transported by the police

AASU
Image Courtesy:indiatoday.in

On Monday, November 29, All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) leader Animesh Bhuyan and two of his acquaintances were attacked by a mob in Jorhat in Assam. 28-year-old Bhuyan, who was the education secretary of AASU’s Brahmaputra Anchalik Committee in Golaghat district, died in hospital soon afterwards while being treated for his injuries. On Wednesday, the main accused in his lynching, a man named Neeraj Kumar Das was also killed after been run over by a vehicle, when he allegedly jumped out of the police vehicle transporting him. His family suspects this was an extra-judicial killing.

According to Jorhat Police, “Niraj Das @ Kola Lora jumped off from police car on way to recover concealed NDPS material but was hit by trailing escort car. 03 policemen also got severe injuries and under treatment. Niraj Das was declared brought dead at JMCH.”

According to The Telegraph, the incident took place at 2 A.M in an area that falls under the jurisdiction of the Cinnamara police outpost, which is around 11 kilometers from the Jorhat police station and about 300km northeast of Guwahati. The vehicles were driving along the Mariani road. Das was declared "brought dead" at the Jorhat Medical College and Hospital.

The mob-lynching on Monday

On November 29, Animesh Bhuyan and two others were lynched by a mob after a perceived altercation with a scooterist. According to the police, Bhuyan and the other two people had tried to help the “elderly ad inebriated” scooterist after he fell off his two-wheeler, reported The Telegraph. But the scooterist accused the trio of hitting his vehicle and knocking him over in the first place. This enraged people nearby and they physically assaulted the trio. Among the assailants was 34-year-old fish seller Neeraj Kumar Das, who was the son of the scooterist.

Arrests, protests and court appearances

13 people were arrested the following day and soon police started telling media persons that Neeraj Kumar Das was a “habitual offender” who had several drugs-related cases against him, and that Bhuyan’s vehicle had not hit his father’s scooter. Das was booked under section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code.

Meanwhile, AASU leader Dipanka Nath led a delegation to the Jorhat police demanding a swift trial and compensation for victims. AASU held a demonstration outside the Deputy Commissioner’s office from 10:30 A.M to 1:30 P.M, reported TT.

Interestingly, Das was not among the 12 people presented before the court who were remanded to judicial custody on Tuesday. He was to be presented before a court on Wednesday. Before that the police took him to a spot to reportedly recover a stash of drugs. This was when the accident occurred.

Family suspects foul play

Das’s sister-in-law told Indian Express that the family suspects his death to be a “planned murder”. She asked, “We do not believe what police are saying, that he wanted to flee. Under so much security, how could he?”

AASU demands separate law for mob lynching cases

It is noteworthy that AASU is one of the most influential organisations in Assam given its history of participating in the Assam movement that led to the signing of the Assam Accord. AASU has also been at the forefront of demanding reverification of the National Register of Citizens (NRC). They have also been demanding a separate law to deal with cases of mob-lynching in the state.

Nath was quoted by TT as saying, “Lynching cases have been rising in Assam. We have had at least four-five cases, including the lynchings of Dr Deben Dutta and Debashish Gogoi, in the past couple of years. Before that we had the Jhankar Saikia case in 2013.” Nath gave the example of Bhuyan’s death to demand a separate law saying, “Animesh had tried to help the scooterist. A separate law and speedy trial and sentencing are required to check such incidents.”

The impact of Bhuyan’s death and AASU’s influence was clear when Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma ordered the police to file a chargesheet within a month and that the case would be tried in a fast-track court. Tweeting in Assamese on November 30, CM Sarma said, “We are deeply saddened by the untimely and tragic death of a young man named Animesh Bhuiyan in a tragic incident in Jorhat.” He added, “All those identified as involved in the incident have already been arrested. We are instructing the administration to provide for the punishment of the guilty in the fast-track court. We have directed the Director General of Special Police, Shri GP Singh, to personally supervise the investigation into the incident and submit the chargesheet within a month.”

Related:

AASU and Assam Gov’t agree to push for NRC reverification again
Gauhati HC asks Centre and Assam State gov’t to indicate stand on funding for Legal Aid

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Zakia Jafri SLP: SIT continues to pat its own back, denies lacunae in investigation

As the SIT continued to make its submissions before the Supreme Court, it pointed out how the findings of the Nanavati Commission were concurrent with its own, including discrediting the petitioner’s main witnesses

02 Dec 2021

Zakia jafri

The Supreme Court bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and CT Ravikumar continued to hear the submissions being made by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) represented by Senior Counsel Mukul Rohatgi in the matter of the Special Leave petition (SLP) filed by Zakia Jafri and CJP concerned with the allegation of larger conspiracy behind the 2002 Gujarat riots.

December 1 marked that 10th day of the marathon hearing by the bench where Rohatgi reiterated that the SIT did its job and asserted that the Nanavati Commission gave its findings concurrent with the SIT’s findings and also justified the trial court’s acceptance of the SIT’s closure report.

About Godhra

Rohatgi has submitted that the petitioners have alleged that there was build up of arms even before February 27, 2002. The petition has, under the heading “mystery of fire”, a portion which tries to speculate how the coach in the train caught fire. Rohatgi said that the petitioners have stated that the behaviour of the kar sevaks was provocative. “As if the incident was provoked. As if there was a fire from within the train. This is wrong. Preposterous,” Rohatgi commented.

The bench questioned if these comments by the petitioners were based on findings of any Commission. Rohatgi said that the trial court, the Nanavati Commission as well as the SIT have discounted their claims. Instead, these are based on findings of the ‘Concerned Citizens Tribunal’ comprising former Supreme Court judges VR Krishna Iyer and Justice PB Sawant as well as former High Court judge, Justice Hosbet Suresh, among others. “We cannot give recognition to them. It does not have legal backing,” Rohatgi added.

Findings of Nanavati Commission

Rohatgi was reading out the findings of the Nanavati Commission wherein it was stated that the riots began at 1 P.M on February 28, 2002 and not earlier. “By 2 P.M, Army was called in. Right when riots commenced these things are happening. The riots did not commence in the morning, they commenced at noon and after,” he submitted. He also stated that as per the finding of the Commission, riots commenced when late Ehsan Jafri shot 8 rounds from his gun.

The Commission also found no substance in the allegation of parading of bodies and held that the bodies in Godhra were given to police escort and not handed over to Jaideep Patel of VHP. The Commission even found that Rahul Sharma was not telling the truth with regard to possession of original CDs of the call data records. It even discredited RB Sreekumar’s deposition and the affidavits filed by him before the Commission.

Keeping the pot boiling

Rohatgi insisted that the complaint has gone out of the hands of the complainant. The protest petition is now 1,200 pages, he pointed out. He stated that when the Gujarat High Court told the complainant to file a complaint under section 190 of CrPC, she should have done that. “Now to keep the pot boiling shows the sinister side,” he commented.

Rohatgi submitted that the Magistrate court heard the closure report and protest petition on a day to day basis from April 15, 2013 and the judgement was reserved in October which was delivered on December 26, 2013.

The bench commented that the argument is that the evidence was to be placed before the trial court, whether it was acceptable or not, was a matter of trial. Rohatgi said, “I have done my job, this was an additional job.  Main context is 9 major cases in which many were convicted. This was adjunct. The conclusion was that it was a spontaneous attack.”

“If something is wrong with the trial court or High Court judgement, it can be redressed by a legal system. You cannot file a complaint in a parallel fashion when a trial is already going on… Now after 20 years  (they are saying) treat it as a complaint. Why? The idea is to keep the pot boiling. Another 20 years will go by if it (protest petition) is treated as a complaint. No normal person can file such a petition. It is obvious there is a sinister motive,” Rohatgi said.

Rohatgi also alleged that some witnesses in the Meghani nagar trial said that they got prepared statements tutored by Petitioner no. 2 (Teesta Setalvad).

Hate Speech cases

Rohatgi said that the petitioners are wrong in saying that hate speech cases were not examined. About 2,000 cases directed by Justice Ruma Pal to be reexamined by the range IGs and a large number of these cases related to hate speech.

Limitations of SIT

About non-responsiveness of fire brigade and post mortem allegedly carried out in a hurry, Rohatgi questioned how can these be within the limits of the SIT. “Is it the remit of SIT to see why the post mortem was done on the tracks. This was a decision taken on spot (by administration),” he said.

There are allegations that the dead bodies were handed over to Jaideep Patel based on the letter of the Mamlatdar. Mamlatdar deposed that he gave the letter under instructions of the Collector, Jayanti Ravi, but she has denied the same. But the SIT reached a finding that there was a police escort and Jaideep Patel only accompanied them.

About non-responsive fire brigade, Rohatgi said criminal negligence is alleged. “Calls were not answered. Obviously, there was paralysis since a mob had taken over. It could be dereliction. What is the crime?”

"The ultimate position is that everybody was complicit, only 3 persons spoke the truth, who are the whistleblowers as per the petitioners. These 3 persons have been adversely commented by the Commission as well as the SIT," he said.

SIT is already an independent body

Rohatgi pointed out that the petitioners have prayed before the High Court, when they went in appeal against the Magistrate Court order accepting the closure report, that an independent authority should investigate the protest petition. He asked, “The SIT was appointed by the Supreme Court, hand picked the officers. Can there be a more independent body?”

Trial Court in Gulberg case

Rohatgi even read out relevant parts of the judgment of the trial court in the Gulberg trial case, where a question was framed for consideration that does the prosecution prove that the accused had entered into a planned conspiracy. The allegation was that the smaller conspiracy at Gulberg was part of larger conspiracy by the political echelon. The court held that there was no such conspiracy.

The bench pointed out that the trial court then, did not have the material that was presented by way of the protest petition. Rohatgi said they had some material, the sting operation tapes, which the court found unreliable, even Rahul Sharma deposed before the court. “If they wanted this material could have been summoned before the court then,” he said.

The trial court found that Mr Jafri fired at the crowd which riled up the crowd and they then entered the building and the riots started. The bench commented that it was all reactionary, the gathering of the crowd, the firing and then another reaction, but we are not going into that. We are concerned with the trial court and High Court with respect to the closure report and Protest petition.

Trial Court accepting Closure report

Rohatgi then started reading parts of the trial court judgment which accepted the SIT’s closure report. He stated that the trial court dealt with every allegation and concurred with the findings of the SIT like the findings related to presence of Ministers in police control room, the handing over of dead bodies, post mortem at the railway yard.

The bench asked Rohatgi in a sequence to see whether all allegations were dealt with by the trial court, because the petitioners have alleged otherwise.

The bench commented, “The petitioners have argued that the real question is whether the decision was malafide. All those reasons have been stated (by trial court)… Your argument is that what the other side is saying that it has not been considered by the Magistrate is not correct.”

The purpose is to show the trial court has applied its mind to every allegation, Rohatgi said.

Related:

The complaint was supposed to be additional material only: SIT in Zakia Jafri SLP

Zakia Jafri SLP: SIT begins submissions, says extensive investigation was done

Hate speech was allowed to spread with impunity: Zakia Jafri SLP

Zakia Jafri SLP: SIT continues to pat its own back, denies lacunae in investigation

As the SIT continued to make its submissions before the Supreme Court, it pointed out how the findings of the Nanavati Commission were concurrent with its own, including discrediting the petitioner’s main witnesses

Zakia jafri

The Supreme Court bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and CT Ravikumar continued to hear the submissions being made by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) represented by Senior Counsel Mukul Rohatgi in the matter of the Special Leave petition (SLP) filed by Zakia Jafri and CJP concerned with the allegation of larger conspiracy behind the 2002 Gujarat riots.

December 1 marked that 10th day of the marathon hearing by the bench where Rohatgi reiterated that the SIT did its job and asserted that the Nanavati Commission gave its findings concurrent with the SIT’s findings and also justified the trial court’s acceptance of the SIT’s closure report.

About Godhra

Rohatgi has submitted that the petitioners have alleged that there was build up of arms even before February 27, 2002. The petition has, under the heading “mystery of fire”, a portion which tries to speculate how the coach in the train caught fire. Rohatgi said that the petitioners have stated that the behaviour of the kar sevaks was provocative. “As if the incident was provoked. As if there was a fire from within the train. This is wrong. Preposterous,” Rohatgi commented.

The bench questioned if these comments by the petitioners were based on findings of any Commission. Rohatgi said that the trial court, the Nanavati Commission as well as the SIT have discounted their claims. Instead, these are based on findings of the ‘Concerned Citizens Tribunal’ comprising former Supreme Court judges VR Krishna Iyer and Justice PB Sawant as well as former High Court judge, Justice Hosbet Suresh, among others. “We cannot give recognition to them. It does not have legal backing,” Rohatgi added.

Findings of Nanavati Commission

Rohatgi was reading out the findings of the Nanavati Commission wherein it was stated that the riots began at 1 P.M on February 28, 2002 and not earlier. “By 2 P.M, Army was called in. Right when riots commenced these things are happening. The riots did not commence in the morning, they commenced at noon and after,” he submitted. He also stated that as per the finding of the Commission, riots commenced when late Ehsan Jafri shot 8 rounds from his gun.

The Commission also found no substance in the allegation of parading of bodies and held that the bodies in Godhra were given to police escort and not handed over to Jaideep Patel of VHP. The Commission even found that Rahul Sharma was not telling the truth with regard to possession of original CDs of the call data records. It even discredited RB Sreekumar’s deposition and the affidavits filed by him before the Commission.

Keeping the pot boiling

Rohatgi insisted that the complaint has gone out of the hands of the complainant. The protest petition is now 1,200 pages, he pointed out. He stated that when the Gujarat High Court told the complainant to file a complaint under section 190 of CrPC, she should have done that. “Now to keep the pot boiling shows the sinister side,” he commented.

Rohatgi submitted that the Magistrate court heard the closure report and protest petition on a day to day basis from April 15, 2013 and the judgement was reserved in October which was delivered on December 26, 2013.

The bench commented that the argument is that the evidence was to be placed before the trial court, whether it was acceptable or not, was a matter of trial. Rohatgi said, “I have done my job, this was an additional job.  Main context is 9 major cases in which many were convicted. This was adjunct. The conclusion was that it was a spontaneous attack.”

“If something is wrong with the trial court or High Court judgement, it can be redressed by a legal system. You cannot file a complaint in a parallel fashion when a trial is already going on… Now after 20 years  (they are saying) treat it as a complaint. Why? The idea is to keep the pot boiling. Another 20 years will go by if it (protest petition) is treated as a complaint. No normal person can file such a petition. It is obvious there is a sinister motive,” Rohatgi said.

Rohatgi also alleged that some witnesses in the Meghani nagar trial said that they got prepared statements tutored by Petitioner no. 2 (Teesta Setalvad).

Hate Speech cases

Rohatgi said that the petitioners are wrong in saying that hate speech cases were not examined. About 2,000 cases directed by Justice Ruma Pal to be reexamined by the range IGs and a large number of these cases related to hate speech.

Limitations of SIT

About non-responsiveness of fire brigade and post mortem allegedly carried out in a hurry, Rohatgi questioned how can these be within the limits of the SIT. “Is it the remit of SIT to see why the post mortem was done on the tracks. This was a decision taken on spot (by administration),” he said.

There are allegations that the dead bodies were handed over to Jaideep Patel based on the letter of the Mamlatdar. Mamlatdar deposed that he gave the letter under instructions of the Collector, Jayanti Ravi, but she has denied the same. But the SIT reached a finding that there was a police escort and Jaideep Patel only accompanied them.

About non-responsive fire brigade, Rohatgi said criminal negligence is alleged. “Calls were not answered. Obviously, there was paralysis since a mob had taken over. It could be dereliction. What is the crime?”

"The ultimate position is that everybody was complicit, only 3 persons spoke the truth, who are the whistleblowers as per the petitioners. These 3 persons have been adversely commented by the Commission as well as the SIT," he said.

SIT is already an independent body

Rohatgi pointed out that the petitioners have prayed before the High Court, when they went in appeal against the Magistrate Court order accepting the closure report, that an independent authority should investigate the protest petition. He asked, “The SIT was appointed by the Supreme Court, hand picked the officers. Can there be a more independent body?”

Trial Court in Gulberg case

Rohatgi even read out relevant parts of the judgment of the trial court in the Gulberg trial case, where a question was framed for consideration that does the prosecution prove that the accused had entered into a planned conspiracy. The allegation was that the smaller conspiracy at Gulberg was part of larger conspiracy by the political echelon. The court held that there was no such conspiracy.

The bench pointed out that the trial court then, did not have the material that was presented by way of the protest petition. Rohatgi said they had some material, the sting operation tapes, which the court found unreliable, even Rahul Sharma deposed before the court. “If they wanted this material could have been summoned before the court then,” he said.

The trial court found that Mr Jafri fired at the crowd which riled up the crowd and they then entered the building and the riots started. The bench commented that it was all reactionary, the gathering of the crowd, the firing and then another reaction, but we are not going into that. We are concerned with the trial court and High Court with respect to the closure report and Protest petition.

Trial Court accepting Closure report

Rohatgi then started reading parts of the trial court judgment which accepted the SIT’s closure report. He stated that the trial court dealt with every allegation and concurred with the findings of the SIT like the findings related to presence of Ministers in police control room, the handing over of dead bodies, post mortem at the railway yard.

The bench asked Rohatgi in a sequence to see whether all allegations were dealt with by the trial court, because the petitioners have alleged otherwise.

The bench commented, “The petitioners have argued that the real question is whether the decision was malafide. All those reasons have been stated (by trial court)… Your argument is that what the other side is saying that it has not been considered by the Magistrate is not correct.”

The purpose is to show the trial court has applied its mind to every allegation, Rohatgi said.

Related:

The complaint was supposed to be additional material only: SIT in Zakia Jafri SLP

Zakia Jafri SLP: SIT begins submissions, says extensive investigation was done

Hate speech was allowed to spread with impunity: Zakia Jafri SLP

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Bhima Koregaon case: Bombay HC grants Sudha Bharadwaj bail

The activist had spent three years behind bars and applied for default bail; court rejected bail for eight others

01 Dec 2021

Sudha Bharadwaj

In a bitter-sweet development in the Bhima Koregaon case, activist Sudha Bharadwaj was granted bail by the Bombay High Court on December 1, 2021. However, bail pleas of eight other accused in the case were rejected. These include Sudhir Dhawale, Mahesh Raut, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Rona Wilson, Shoma Sen, Surendra Gadling and Varavara Rao.

Bharadwaj will next be produced before a special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court on December 8, for determining bail conditions before she is released from jail. Justices SS Shinde and NJ Jamadar had been hearing her plea for default bail, and had reserved judgment in August. Bharadwaj had sought default bail under section 167 (2) of the Criminal Procedure Code. The section deals with the jurisdiction of a judge who is either trying the case or authorising detention of the accused.

Bharadwaj, through her counsel Advocate Yug Chaudhry, sought for the setting aside of an order passed by Additional Sessions Judge KD Vadane on the grounds that Vadane had not been appointed as a special judge under the NIA Act. It was Judge Vadane’s 2018 order that extended the time for filing a chargesheet. A chargesheet needs to be filed within 90 days of detention, but because of the impugned order Bharadwaj was forced to remain behind bars despite the lapse of the deadline. The trial court also took cognizance of a 1800-page supplementary chargesheet in February 2019, which the petitioners contend should not have been permitted given the previous argument related to the original chargesheet.

The state government, represented by Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni, meanwhile argued that the NIA judge was needed only at the trial stage, and not the pre-trial stage. Arguing for the NIA, Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, opposed the default bail plea, claiming the 90-day extension granted to Pune Police in 2018 to file a chargesheet in the case did not cause any prejudice to the rights of the accused.

It is noteworthy that trial in this high-profile case, where nearly a dozen activists and human rights defenders are facing charges under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), is yet to commence. One of the accused, Jesuit priest and Adivasi rights activist Fr. Stan Swamy, has already passed away. Sudha Bharadwaj herself, spent four birthdays in jail and recently turned 60 while still behind bars. She was arrested on August 28, 2018 and has been lodged in Byculla jail since then.

Sudha Bharadwaj has been associated with the trade union movement in Chhattisgarh for more than 25 years, and she is also the general secretary of the Chhattisgarh unit of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), and a member of Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS). She has been accused of criminal conspiracy, sedition under the Indian Penal Code and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act charges of funding a terrorist activity, conspiracy, being a member of terrorist gang or organisation, and supporting a terrorist organisation.

*This report will be updated when the order copy becomes available.

The complete order may be read here:

 

Related:

No bail, no trial: Sudha Bharadwaj turns 60 in jail!

Sudha Bharadwaj’s Remarkable Journey: From Trade Unionist and Lawyer to ‘Urban Naxal’

Bhima Koregaon case: Bombay HC grants Sudha Bharadwaj bail

The activist had spent three years behind bars and applied for default bail; court rejected bail for eight others

Sudha Bharadwaj

In a bitter-sweet development in the Bhima Koregaon case, activist Sudha Bharadwaj was granted bail by the Bombay High Court on December 1, 2021. However, bail pleas of eight other accused in the case were rejected. These include Sudhir Dhawale, Mahesh Raut, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Rona Wilson, Shoma Sen, Surendra Gadling and Varavara Rao.

Bharadwaj will next be produced before a special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court on December 8, for determining bail conditions before she is released from jail. Justices SS Shinde and NJ Jamadar had been hearing her plea for default bail, and had reserved judgment in August. Bharadwaj had sought default bail under section 167 (2) of the Criminal Procedure Code. The section deals with the jurisdiction of a judge who is either trying the case or authorising detention of the accused.

Bharadwaj, through her counsel Advocate Yug Chaudhry, sought for the setting aside of an order passed by Additional Sessions Judge KD Vadane on the grounds that Vadane had not been appointed as a special judge under the NIA Act. It was Judge Vadane’s 2018 order that extended the time for filing a chargesheet. A chargesheet needs to be filed within 90 days of detention, but because of the impugned order Bharadwaj was forced to remain behind bars despite the lapse of the deadline. The trial court also took cognizance of a 1800-page supplementary chargesheet in February 2019, which the petitioners contend should not have been permitted given the previous argument related to the original chargesheet.

The state government, represented by Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni, meanwhile argued that the NIA judge was needed only at the trial stage, and not the pre-trial stage. Arguing for the NIA, Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, opposed the default bail plea, claiming the 90-day extension granted to Pune Police in 2018 to file a chargesheet in the case did not cause any prejudice to the rights of the accused.

It is noteworthy that trial in this high-profile case, where nearly a dozen activists and human rights defenders are facing charges under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), is yet to commence. One of the accused, Jesuit priest and Adivasi rights activist Fr. Stan Swamy, has already passed away. Sudha Bharadwaj herself, spent four birthdays in jail and recently turned 60 while still behind bars. She was arrested on August 28, 2018 and has been lodged in Byculla jail since then.

Sudha Bharadwaj has been associated with the trade union movement in Chhattisgarh for more than 25 years, and she is also the general secretary of the Chhattisgarh unit of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), and a member of Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS). She has been accused of criminal conspiracy, sedition under the Indian Penal Code and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act charges of funding a terrorist activity, conspiracy, being a member of terrorist gang or organisation, and supporting a terrorist organisation.

*This report will be updated when the order copy becomes available.

The complete order may be read here:

 

Related:

No bail, no trial: Sudha Bharadwaj turns 60 in jail!

Sudha Bharadwaj’s Remarkable Journey: From Trade Unionist and Lawyer to ‘Urban Naxal’

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Supreme Court notice to Centre, Tripura gov't on plea seeking SIT probe

FIRs not registered, not a single arrest, but 41a notices sent to lawyers, UAPA against journalists, Prashant Bhushan tells the Supreme Court

29 Nov 2021

Tripura Violence
Image Courtesy:deccanherald.com

The Supreme Court has issued notice to the Central and Tripura governments on a plea for an investigation by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) into the incidents of violence in Tripura against the Muslim community. In the case titled Ehtesham Hashmi vs. Union of India, senior advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the petitioner, told the Court that the state was "not registering FIRs, sending 41a notices to lawyers who had produced that Fact-Finding report, invoking UAPA against journalists who had reported about this violence, not a single arrest has been made!"

A Bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and AS Bopanna was hearing the petition filed by advocate Ehtesham Hashmi seeking the Court’s intervention in alleged hate crimes that took place in Tripura in October. Hashmi, according to legal news portals, submitted before the court that he had personally visited riot affected areas of the state along with other Delhi based advocates, and published a fact-finding report about the visit. According to the petitioner, the following findings were arrived at after meeting with families and persons who were at the receiving end of the vandalism, stated the plea:

a) 12 Mosques were damaged;

b) 9 shops owned by Muslim businessmen were damaged; 

c) 3 houses owned by Muslims were vandalised.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan told the Court that instead of taking adequate steps to prevent the hate crimes that took place over a period of ten days, or providing adequate relief to the victims, the respondents were hand in glove with the perpetrators, reported Bar and Bench.

The plea stated that, "The West Agartala Police Station has sent a notice u/s 41 A of the Criminal Procedure Code to two of the advocates that had accompanied the petitioner to conduct a fact-finding exercise and document the incidents of violence, imputing that it was their social media posts, statements and Report which were responsible for “promoting enmity between religious groups as well as provoking people of different religious communities to commit breach of peace,” adding that the police had invoked the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) against 102 people, including journalists, for reporting and writing on the violence," stated the news report.

The plea stated that the conduct of the police was "arbitrary and mala fide” and affected the victims’ right to justice and was also violative of Article 14 and Article 21 of the Constitution of India and also plea additionally sought directions to the respondents to “comply with the principles laid down in the judgment of the Supreme Court in Tehseen Poonawalla v. Union of India”. In that case, the SC had directed that action must be taken for 'failure to act' by the police, therefore making way for individual criminal responsibility for erring police officials for acts of 'omission or commission', reported Live Law on the petition’s highlights. 

The Tripura High Court had also taken suo motu cognisance of the incident and recently asked the state government to specify details for computing the amount of compensation awarded in favour of the victims.

The plea also alleged, “Police and State authorities instead of attempting to stop the violence kept on claiming that there was no communal tension anywhere in Tripura and further denied reports of any mosque being set ablaze," adding that it was a "shocking state of affairs where Muslims are openly targeted by rioters and no protection has been extended to them by the Respondents and no arrests of said rioters has been made by the police authorities." The notice is made returnable in 2 weeks, the matter will be heard on December 13.

Over 10 days ago the Supreme Court of India had ordered that “no coercive steps be taken” against the two lawyers who were part of a fact-finding team that visited Tripura to investigate the communal violence that broke out in the state in October, and journalist Shyam Meera Singh who had written a social media post about the violence. They had all been booked under the draconian anti-terror law Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) by the Tripura Police for posting their opinions on social media, related to the recent communal violence in the state.

Related:

It is mayhem there… Supreme Court orders not being followed, Kapil Sibal tells SC 
Tripura: Journalists still make headlines for surviving attacks, rather than reporting them
No coercive steps to be taken against journalist, lawyers charged by Tripura Police: Supreme Court 

 

Supreme Court notice to Centre, Tripura gov't on plea seeking SIT probe

FIRs not registered, not a single arrest, but 41a notices sent to lawyers, UAPA against journalists, Prashant Bhushan tells the Supreme Court

Tripura Violence
Image Courtesy:deccanherald.com

The Supreme Court has issued notice to the Central and Tripura governments on a plea for an investigation by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) into the incidents of violence in Tripura against the Muslim community. In the case titled Ehtesham Hashmi vs. Union of India, senior advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the petitioner, told the Court that the state was "not registering FIRs, sending 41a notices to lawyers who had produced that Fact-Finding report, invoking UAPA against journalists who had reported about this violence, not a single arrest has been made!"

A Bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and AS Bopanna was hearing the petition filed by advocate Ehtesham Hashmi seeking the Court’s intervention in alleged hate crimes that took place in Tripura in October. Hashmi, according to legal news portals, submitted before the court that he had personally visited riot affected areas of the state along with other Delhi based advocates, and published a fact-finding report about the visit. According to the petitioner, the following findings were arrived at after meeting with families and persons who were at the receiving end of the vandalism, stated the plea:

a) 12 Mosques were damaged;

b) 9 shops owned by Muslim businessmen were damaged; 

c) 3 houses owned by Muslims were vandalised.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan told the Court that instead of taking adequate steps to prevent the hate crimes that took place over a period of ten days, or providing adequate relief to the victims, the respondents were hand in glove with the perpetrators, reported Bar and Bench.

The plea stated that, "The West Agartala Police Station has sent a notice u/s 41 A of the Criminal Procedure Code to two of the advocates that had accompanied the petitioner to conduct a fact-finding exercise and document the incidents of violence, imputing that it was their social media posts, statements and Report which were responsible for “promoting enmity between religious groups as well as provoking people of different religious communities to commit breach of peace,” adding that the police had invoked the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) against 102 people, including journalists, for reporting and writing on the violence," stated the news report.

The plea stated that the conduct of the police was "arbitrary and mala fide” and affected the victims’ right to justice and was also violative of Article 14 and Article 21 of the Constitution of India and also plea additionally sought directions to the respondents to “comply with the principles laid down in the judgment of the Supreme Court in Tehseen Poonawalla v. Union of India”. In that case, the SC had directed that action must be taken for 'failure to act' by the police, therefore making way for individual criminal responsibility for erring police officials for acts of 'omission or commission', reported Live Law on the petition’s highlights. 

The Tripura High Court had also taken suo motu cognisance of the incident and recently asked the state government to specify details for computing the amount of compensation awarded in favour of the victims.

The plea also alleged, “Police and State authorities instead of attempting to stop the violence kept on claiming that there was no communal tension anywhere in Tripura and further denied reports of any mosque being set ablaze," adding that it was a "shocking state of affairs where Muslims are openly targeted by rioters and no protection has been extended to them by the Respondents and no arrests of said rioters has been made by the police authorities." The notice is made returnable in 2 weeks, the matter will be heard on December 13.

Over 10 days ago the Supreme Court of India had ordered that “no coercive steps be taken” against the two lawyers who were part of a fact-finding team that visited Tripura to investigate the communal violence that broke out in the state in October, and journalist Shyam Meera Singh who had written a social media post about the violence. They had all been booked under the draconian anti-terror law Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) by the Tripura Police for posting their opinions on social media, related to the recent communal violence in the state.

Related:

It is mayhem there… Supreme Court orders not being followed, Kapil Sibal tells SC 
Tripura: Journalists still make headlines for surviving attacks, rather than reporting them
No coercive steps to be taken against journalist, lawyers charged by Tripura Police: Supreme Court 

 

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Man “from same community arrested” for allegedly killing Dalit family: UP Police

On Saturday, police had suspended two of its personnel for allegedly “pressuring the Dalit family compromise with the upper-caste family in a dispute linked to grazing land”

29 Nov 2021

Uttar pradesh police
Image Courtesy:indianexpress.com

After the protests and political comments cornering the Uttar Pradesh government over the brutal murder of four members of a Dalit family in Prayagraj district’s Phaphamau area on Thursday, the state’s police, on Sunday, said they have arrested a man “who belongs to the same community as the deceased”. What makes this statement worth noting is that it comes a day after UP Police named 11 people reportedly from a so called ‘upper-caste’ family in its FIR on the murders. Police had then told the media that eight had been arrested, and now the new statement Sunday stating that the latest arrested is “from the same community.” 

The bodies of the 50-year-old man, his 47-year-old wife, daughter (now said to be born in June 1996 ) and 10-year-old son, were found on their beds inside their home at Phaphamau on Thursday morning. The vicitms had been attacked with an axe and killed, the teenged girl had been gang-raped before she was killed. The incident blew up on Friday, as protests by locals alleging police negligence began in the area, and politicians visited the victims’ village. At that time, Sarvashresth Tripathi, the Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of police was quoted by the media that the “deceased family had filed an SC/ST case against some people of the village. The autopsy report suggested that the victims were assaulted with an axe."  

On Saturday, the police had also suspended two of its personnel for allegedly “pressuring the Dalit family over the past two years to compromise with the 'upper-caste' family in a dispute linked to grazing land”, as per a report in the Indian Express, adding that the Dalit family had filed two police complaints but no action was taken. Prayagraj DIG Sarvashresht Tripathi had also said, “Eight people out of the 11 named have been arrested. The remaining two are in Mumbai, and teams have been deployed to trace and arrest them. One accused is admitted in a hospital and is not able to walk. We will question him as well. We will probe the case from all possible angles.” 

Contradictory police statements

On Sunday evening, ADG (Prayagraj zone) Prem Prakash was quoted by the media talking about the latest arrest saying, “The 23-year-old accused belongs to the same community as the deceased. He was harassing the girl by sending her messages on her mobile phone repeatedly. The girl was refusing (his advances). On the basis of the last message and circumstantial evidence, he was arrested.”

According to ADG Prakash, “It has been established that (the 23-year-old) with some others, killed the family members. He has named some people, but keeps changing them. The investigation about the others involved is ongoing. We are taking action based on call details and DNA profiling.” 

The new statement raises a few questions:

Why have the police made a point to categorically identify an accused as being “from the same community” as the victims?

What does this mean for the previously arrested "upper caste" accused?

How will that affect the investigations? 

Will it have an effect on the public perception of the case?

What about the “land dispute” linked to the case?

Who did the Dalit family try to complain against in the past but were turned away?

What has kept the police from sharing what “community” the other 10 accused are from? 

Why were two policemen suspended?

Referring to the 11 initially named in the FIR, the ADG had said, “The people who were named in the FIR so far, it was found that there was some small dispute with the deceased man’s brother. No evidence has come out till now to show that they murdered the family.” He reportedly added that “some messages were found” when the police checked the girl’s mobile and, “When the 23-year-old was held, he denied sending any messages and denied knowing the girl. But when his mobile was found, the messages were there.” 

According to the news report the police also stated that as the deceased girl’s date of birth was June 1996 “POCSO sections will be removed”. The ADG told the media that while “Rape has been confirmed on the girl”, police have “sought medical opinion about how many people committed the rape”. According to the news report the ADG said, “The panel of doctors who did the post mortem has said that there was symmetry in the injuries on the body parts of the girl, which suggest that one person has killed her,” adding when the accused was examined, “some injury marks were found on his body and shirt. He says that they were paan stains, but they seem to be blood stains. We are sending his clothes and other evidence for DNA profiling.”

According to the IE report, a close relative of the Dalit family, who is deployed in the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), has questioned the latest police version. He has reportedly likened this case to the gangrape and death of the 19-year-old Dalit girl in Hathras last year. “I got a call from a policeman who named the person who, the police claim, killed them. I don’t know him. I was told that he lives 5 km from our house… I will believe this new statement only after the other accused are caught and more details are revealed. We all saw the Hathras case where police changed their version so many times,” the IE quoted the man identified as the victim’s younger brother.

According to the victim’s younger brother, “I broke the door open, and saw my brother lying in a pool of blood. I panicked and left. I called the police helpline number and entered the house again only after the police arrived. I saw that my sister-in-law and their two children were also lying dead. There was blood everywhere.”

The matter has now reached the political stage and Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra who met the kin of the victims said, the family is “scared that they may face harassment again”. Gandhi told the media that the women in the family were mocked by the police when they went searching for help and she has accused the administration of negligence and apathy against Dalits, “What happened to Arun Valmiki in Agra, what happened in Hathras and what is happening here? If Dalits are continually being tortured, what is the point of celebrating Constitution Day?” She added that “since  2019, the government machinery has been giving protection to goons.”

Related:

Noida hate crime survivor approaches SC seeking fair investigation
Hindutva group tries to evoke ‘love jihad’ bogey in Kasganj case
Uttar Pradesh: Young man dies on return from police questioning, family alleges torture
UP: Muslim man accused of kidnapping Hindu girl dies in police custody
Inquiry into rights violations by UP police during 2019 anti-CAA protests: NHRC
UP: NHRC sets up inquiry in minor boy’s death by suicide after spending 3 months in jail
Anti-Muslim hate on streets: Vendors beaten, forced to chant Jai Sri Ram, boycotted, dargah desecrated
UP: Siddharthnagar SC students waiting for a functional hostel for 11 years!

Man “from same community arrested” for allegedly killing Dalit family: UP Police

On Saturday, police had suspended two of its personnel for allegedly “pressuring the Dalit family compromise with the upper-caste family in a dispute linked to grazing land”

Uttar pradesh police
Image Courtesy:indianexpress.com

After the protests and political comments cornering the Uttar Pradesh government over the brutal murder of four members of a Dalit family in Prayagraj district’s Phaphamau area on Thursday, the state’s police, on Sunday, said they have arrested a man “who belongs to the same community as the deceased”. What makes this statement worth noting is that it comes a day after UP Police named 11 people reportedly from a so called ‘upper-caste’ family in its FIR on the murders. Police had then told the media that eight had been arrested, and now the new statement Sunday stating that the latest arrested is “from the same community.” 

The bodies of the 50-year-old man, his 47-year-old wife, daughter (now said to be born in June 1996 ) and 10-year-old son, were found on their beds inside their home at Phaphamau on Thursday morning. The vicitms had been attacked with an axe and killed, the teenged girl had been gang-raped before she was killed. The incident blew up on Friday, as protests by locals alleging police negligence began in the area, and politicians visited the victims’ village. At that time, Sarvashresth Tripathi, the Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of police was quoted by the media that the “deceased family had filed an SC/ST case against some people of the village. The autopsy report suggested that the victims were assaulted with an axe."  

On Saturday, the police had also suspended two of its personnel for allegedly “pressuring the Dalit family over the past two years to compromise with the 'upper-caste' family in a dispute linked to grazing land”, as per a report in the Indian Express, adding that the Dalit family had filed two police complaints but no action was taken. Prayagraj DIG Sarvashresht Tripathi had also said, “Eight people out of the 11 named have been arrested. The remaining two are in Mumbai, and teams have been deployed to trace and arrest them. One accused is admitted in a hospital and is not able to walk. We will question him as well. We will probe the case from all possible angles.” 

Contradictory police statements

On Sunday evening, ADG (Prayagraj zone) Prem Prakash was quoted by the media talking about the latest arrest saying, “The 23-year-old accused belongs to the same community as the deceased. He was harassing the girl by sending her messages on her mobile phone repeatedly. The girl was refusing (his advances). On the basis of the last message and circumstantial evidence, he was arrested.”

According to ADG Prakash, “It has been established that (the 23-year-old) with some others, killed the family members. He has named some people, but keeps changing them. The investigation about the others involved is ongoing. We are taking action based on call details and DNA profiling.” 

The new statement raises a few questions:

Why have the police made a point to categorically identify an accused as being “from the same community” as the victims?

What does this mean for the previously arrested "upper caste" accused?

How will that affect the investigations? 

Will it have an effect on the public perception of the case?

What about the “land dispute” linked to the case?

Who did the Dalit family try to complain against in the past but were turned away?

What has kept the police from sharing what “community” the other 10 accused are from? 

Why were two policemen suspended?

Referring to the 11 initially named in the FIR, the ADG had said, “The people who were named in the FIR so far, it was found that there was some small dispute with the deceased man’s brother. No evidence has come out till now to show that they murdered the family.” He reportedly added that “some messages were found” when the police checked the girl’s mobile and, “When the 23-year-old was held, he denied sending any messages and denied knowing the girl. But when his mobile was found, the messages were there.” 

According to the news report the police also stated that as the deceased girl’s date of birth was June 1996 “POCSO sections will be removed”. The ADG told the media that while “Rape has been confirmed on the girl”, police have “sought medical opinion about how many people committed the rape”. According to the news report the ADG said, “The panel of doctors who did the post mortem has said that there was symmetry in the injuries on the body parts of the girl, which suggest that one person has killed her,” adding when the accused was examined, “some injury marks were found on his body and shirt. He says that they were paan stains, but they seem to be blood stains. We are sending his clothes and other evidence for DNA profiling.”

According to the IE report, a close relative of the Dalit family, who is deployed in the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), has questioned the latest police version. He has reportedly likened this case to the gangrape and death of the 19-year-old Dalit girl in Hathras last year. “I got a call from a policeman who named the person who, the police claim, killed them. I don’t know him. I was told that he lives 5 km from our house… I will believe this new statement only after the other accused are caught and more details are revealed. We all saw the Hathras case where police changed their version so many times,” the IE quoted the man identified as the victim’s younger brother.

According to the victim’s younger brother, “I broke the door open, and saw my brother lying in a pool of blood. I panicked and left. I called the police helpline number and entered the house again only after the police arrived. I saw that my sister-in-law and their two children were also lying dead. There was blood everywhere.”

The matter has now reached the political stage and Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra who met the kin of the victims said, the family is “scared that they may face harassment again”. Gandhi told the media that the women in the family were mocked by the police when they went searching for help and she has accused the administration of negligence and apathy against Dalits, “What happened to Arun Valmiki in Agra, what happened in Hathras and what is happening here? If Dalits are continually being tortured, what is the point of celebrating Constitution Day?” She added that “since  2019, the government machinery has been giving protection to goons.”

Related:

Noida hate crime survivor approaches SC seeking fair investigation
Hindutva group tries to evoke ‘love jihad’ bogey in Kasganj case
Uttar Pradesh: Young man dies on return from police questioning, family alleges torture
UP: Muslim man accused of kidnapping Hindu girl dies in police custody
Inquiry into rights violations by UP police during 2019 anti-CAA protests: NHRC
UP: NHRC sets up inquiry in minor boy’s death by suicide after spending 3 months in jail
Anti-Muslim hate on streets: Vendors beaten, forced to chant Jai Sri Ram, boycotted, dargah desecrated
UP: Siddharthnagar SC students waiting for a functional hostel for 11 years!

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Did not interrogate Nambi Narayanan: RB Sreekumar

The retired cop has been accused of torturing a former ISRO scientist and other accused during interrogation in a case of alleged espionage

29 Nov 2021

ISRO
Image Courtesy:livelaw.in

RB Sreekumar, a retired police officer who has held many high-ranking positions such as Gujarat Director General of Police (DGP), has submitted before the Supreme Court that claims of torture made by Nambi Narayanan, a key accused in the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) espionage case of 1994, are misplaced.

The matter pertains to a case where certain confidential documents pertaining to India’s space programme were allegedly made available to foreign countries by two scientists and four others, including two Maldivian women. Nambi Narayanan, who was the director of the cryogenic project at ISRO at the time, was arrested along with the then ISRO Deputy Director D Sashikumaran by the Kerala Police. At the time of the incident, Sreekumar was posted as the Deputy Director of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) in Thiruvananthapuram. Narayanan had accused Sreekumar of torturing him during interrogation.

However, in his submission to the SC, Sreekumar refuted this claim by recounting events as they transpired. “I do not remember the exact date, but I believe sometime in late October of 1994, the IB was requested to support the Kerala Police to conduct the interrogation and since I was posted in Kerala IB unit at the time, I was one of the officers of the IB who was included in the team of IB officers detailed for interrogation.” He further says, “I was given the task of interrogating D. Sashikumaran, a scientist from ISRO. I conducted the interrogation along with the Kerala Police officers in a very congenial atmosphere and the entire interrogation was audio-video recorded, and the High Court of Kerala has indeed viewed the same and found that the interrogation was conducted in a congenial atmosphere.”

On the subject of interrogating Nambi Narayanan, Sreekumar submitted, “Within two days of arrest of Nambi Narayanan, the case was handed over to the CBI, and the IB had no role to play in the case thereafter. In other words, Nambi Narayanan was in the custody of Kerala Police for two days. Hence all his claims of torture at the hands of IB officials is completely misplaced.”

He listed the dates of arrest of Sashikumaran and Narayanan as per official records as November 21 and November 30, 1994 respectively.

Sreekumar claims that he is being made a “scapegoat”. He said, “I have already faced disciplinary proceedings as per the recommendations of the CBI and after a thorough inquiry I have been fully exonerated as the charges were not proved.” He was exonerated as per an order dated January 24, 2005, and therefore calls the current FIR (that was filed on May 1, 2021) a double jeopardy. He further submits that the Justice DK Jain Committee did not speak to him. He also states, “All instructions were being given at the highest level and to assume that I was in a position to interrogate anyone at my discretion is completely incorrect and misplaced. The assertion that I had a previous grouse against him and I had threatened him earlier is without any basis. In any case, arresting him was not my decision.” Sreekumar says, “This is a case which is being developed now as an afterthought to sensationalise the case.”

Sreekumar has been booked under the following charges in the present FIR:

·        120 B (criminal conspiracy)

·        167 (Public servant framing an incorrect document with intent to cause injury)

·        195 (Giving or fabricating false evidence)

·        218 (Public servant framing incorrect record or writing with intent to save person from punishment or property from forfei­ture)

·        323 (Voluntarily causing hurt)

·        330 (Voluntarily causing hurt to extort confession, or to compel restoration of property)

·        348 (Wrongful confinement to extort confession, or compel resto­ration of property

·        365 (Kidnapping)

·        477 A (Falsification of accounts)

·        506 (Criminal intimidation)

All sections other than 365 are bailable and for 195 a sanction has to be obtained. The present proceedings are for anticipatory bail. Sreekumar also submitted that being of an advanced age he is not a flight risk and that he will be available for investigation at any time to the CBI and that custodial interrogation was not required in a case like this.

It is noteworthy that the Gujarat High Court, on two occasions (July 20 and July 28, 2021), ordered the CBI to not arrest the 74-year-old former Director General of Police till July 29, 2021, until he had obtained anticipatory bail from the Kerala court.

Then on July 29, 2021, Justice K. Haripal of the Kerala High Court granted interim protection to former Gujarat DGP R B Sreekumar from arrest. Justice Haripal ordered that Sreekumar shall not be arrested till August 2, when the matter was posted for hearing before Justice Ashok Menon. He also tagged his plea with two other anticipatory bail applications pertaining to the same case.

At that time, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) S.V. Raju, appearing for the CBI, argued before the Kerala High Court that CBI strongly believed that Pakistan was involved in the case and that it was done to derail ISRO's programme to develop a cryogenic engine. Therefore, bail should not be granted to Sreekumar and his co-accused. However, Sreekumar’s counsel argued that he wasn’t even present during Nambi Narayanan’s interrogation, and that Narayanan had already become an accused in the espionage case before Sreekumar became privy to the matter. The lawyer further apprised the court that the investigation was handled by a special investigation team and that Sreekumar was not part of the SIT and only assisted them on the request of the Kerala Police. 

On August 13, the Kerala High Court granted anticipatory bail to all accused persons/petitioners in the case. These include - RB Sreekumar, two former Kerala Police officers S. Vijayan and Thampi S. Durga, and a retired IB official PS Jayaprakash.

The Kerala High Court, through its August 13 order, has ruled that there is not even a “scintilla of evidence regarding the petitioners being influenced by any foreign power so as to induce them to hatch a conspiracy to falsely implicate the Scientists of the ISRO with the intention to stall the activities of the ISRO with regard to the development of Cryogenic Engine.”

Justice Ashok Menon observed that unless there are specific materials regarding their involvement, prima facie, it cannot be said that they were acting against the interest of the country. He said that the concerns of the Kerala Police at that stage cannot be said to be without any basis, but ultimately it was found that “there is nothing in the accusation made against the offices and the investigation was dropped. The accused in the present crime should not be made to face a similar situation of being forced to undergo the ignominy of being incarcerated in the prison for interrogation at this old age after their retirement for an incident that took place a quarter of a century ago.”

The Bench further noted that there was no indication or material, apart from the rhetoric that a foreign power has a hand in persuading the petitioners. Therefore, it was ruled that the petitioners were entitled to the remedy of anticipatory bail. Justice Menon also said that the investigation was triggered by the apprehension of the Maldivian ladies who were overstaying their Visa.

The court also noted that during the investigation, the officers in the lower rank (such as some of the petitioners) found certain suspicious circumstances, as a result of which, they registered the crime and reported the matter to the higher authorities. Therefore, the Court accepted that the concerns of the petitioners/Kerala Police at that stage cannot be said to be “without any basis.”

The CBI then moved Supreme Court against the grant of Anticipatory Bail to Sreekumar. On Monday November 22, the Supreme Court had issued notice in connection with this and Sreekumar was asked to respond by November 29, 2021, which he did. His entire response may be read here:

Related:

SC issues notice in RB Sreekumar espionage case
ISRO espionage case: Kerala HC grants protection from arrest to R.B Sreekumar
ISRO espionage case: Kerala HC grants pre-arrest bail to former Gujarat DGP RB Sreekumar, three others

Did not interrogate Nambi Narayanan: RB Sreekumar

The retired cop has been accused of torturing a former ISRO scientist and other accused during interrogation in a case of alleged espionage

ISRO
Image Courtesy:livelaw.in

RB Sreekumar, a retired police officer who has held many high-ranking positions such as Gujarat Director General of Police (DGP), has submitted before the Supreme Court that claims of torture made by Nambi Narayanan, a key accused in the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) espionage case of 1994, are misplaced.

The matter pertains to a case where certain confidential documents pertaining to India’s space programme were allegedly made available to foreign countries by two scientists and four others, including two Maldivian women. Nambi Narayanan, who was the director of the cryogenic project at ISRO at the time, was arrested along with the then ISRO Deputy Director D Sashikumaran by the Kerala Police. At the time of the incident, Sreekumar was posted as the Deputy Director of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) in Thiruvananthapuram. Narayanan had accused Sreekumar of torturing him during interrogation.

However, in his submission to the SC, Sreekumar refuted this claim by recounting events as they transpired. “I do not remember the exact date, but I believe sometime in late October of 1994, the IB was requested to support the Kerala Police to conduct the interrogation and since I was posted in Kerala IB unit at the time, I was one of the officers of the IB who was included in the team of IB officers detailed for interrogation.” He further says, “I was given the task of interrogating D. Sashikumaran, a scientist from ISRO. I conducted the interrogation along with the Kerala Police officers in a very congenial atmosphere and the entire interrogation was audio-video recorded, and the High Court of Kerala has indeed viewed the same and found that the interrogation was conducted in a congenial atmosphere.”

On the subject of interrogating Nambi Narayanan, Sreekumar submitted, “Within two days of arrest of Nambi Narayanan, the case was handed over to the CBI, and the IB had no role to play in the case thereafter. In other words, Nambi Narayanan was in the custody of Kerala Police for two days. Hence all his claims of torture at the hands of IB officials is completely misplaced.”

He listed the dates of arrest of Sashikumaran and Narayanan as per official records as November 21 and November 30, 1994 respectively.

Sreekumar claims that he is being made a “scapegoat”. He said, “I have already faced disciplinary proceedings as per the recommendations of the CBI and after a thorough inquiry I have been fully exonerated as the charges were not proved.” He was exonerated as per an order dated January 24, 2005, and therefore calls the current FIR (that was filed on May 1, 2021) a double jeopardy. He further submits that the Justice DK Jain Committee did not speak to him. He also states, “All instructions were being given at the highest level and to assume that I was in a position to interrogate anyone at my discretion is completely incorrect and misplaced. The assertion that I had a previous grouse against him and I had threatened him earlier is without any basis. In any case, arresting him was not my decision.” Sreekumar says, “This is a case which is being developed now as an afterthought to sensationalise the case.”

Sreekumar has been booked under the following charges in the present FIR:

·        120 B (criminal conspiracy)

·        167 (Public servant framing an incorrect document with intent to cause injury)

·        195 (Giving or fabricating false evidence)

·        218 (Public servant framing incorrect record or writing with intent to save person from punishment or property from forfei­ture)

·        323 (Voluntarily causing hurt)

·        330 (Voluntarily causing hurt to extort confession, or to compel restoration of property)

·        348 (Wrongful confinement to extort confession, or compel resto­ration of property

·        365 (Kidnapping)

·        477 A (Falsification of accounts)

·        506 (Criminal intimidation)

All sections other than 365 are bailable and for 195 a sanction has to be obtained. The present proceedings are for anticipatory bail. Sreekumar also submitted that being of an advanced age he is not a flight risk and that he will be available for investigation at any time to the CBI and that custodial interrogation was not required in a case like this.

It is noteworthy that the Gujarat High Court, on two occasions (July 20 and July 28, 2021), ordered the CBI to not arrest the 74-year-old former Director General of Police till July 29, 2021, until he had obtained anticipatory bail from the Kerala court.

Then on July 29, 2021, Justice K. Haripal of the Kerala High Court granted interim protection to former Gujarat DGP R B Sreekumar from arrest. Justice Haripal ordered that Sreekumar shall not be arrested till August 2, when the matter was posted for hearing before Justice Ashok Menon. He also tagged his plea with two other anticipatory bail applications pertaining to the same case.

At that time, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) S.V. Raju, appearing for the CBI, argued before the Kerala High Court that CBI strongly believed that Pakistan was involved in the case and that it was done to derail ISRO's programme to develop a cryogenic engine. Therefore, bail should not be granted to Sreekumar and his co-accused. However, Sreekumar’s counsel argued that he wasn’t even present during Nambi Narayanan’s interrogation, and that Narayanan had already become an accused in the espionage case before Sreekumar became privy to the matter. The lawyer further apprised the court that the investigation was handled by a special investigation team and that Sreekumar was not part of the SIT and only assisted them on the request of the Kerala Police. 

On August 13, the Kerala High Court granted anticipatory bail to all accused persons/petitioners in the case. These include - RB Sreekumar, two former Kerala Police officers S. Vijayan and Thampi S. Durga, and a retired IB official PS Jayaprakash.

The Kerala High Court, through its August 13 order, has ruled that there is not even a “scintilla of evidence regarding the petitioners being influenced by any foreign power so as to induce them to hatch a conspiracy to falsely implicate the Scientists of the ISRO with the intention to stall the activities of the ISRO with regard to the development of Cryogenic Engine.”

Justice Ashok Menon observed that unless there are specific materials regarding their involvement, prima facie, it cannot be said that they were acting against the interest of the country. He said that the concerns of the Kerala Police at that stage cannot be said to be without any basis, but ultimately it was found that “there is nothing in the accusation made against the offices and the investigation was dropped. The accused in the present crime should not be made to face a similar situation of being forced to undergo the ignominy of being incarcerated in the prison for interrogation at this old age after their retirement for an incident that took place a quarter of a century ago.”

The Bench further noted that there was no indication or material, apart from the rhetoric that a foreign power has a hand in persuading the petitioners. Therefore, it was ruled that the petitioners were entitled to the remedy of anticipatory bail. Justice Menon also said that the investigation was triggered by the apprehension of the Maldivian ladies who were overstaying their Visa.

The court also noted that during the investigation, the officers in the lower rank (such as some of the petitioners) found certain suspicious circumstances, as a result of which, they registered the crime and reported the matter to the higher authorities. Therefore, the Court accepted that the concerns of the petitioners/Kerala Police at that stage cannot be said to be “without any basis.”

The CBI then moved Supreme Court against the grant of Anticipatory Bail to Sreekumar. On Monday November 22, the Supreme Court had issued notice in connection with this and Sreekumar was asked to respond by November 29, 2021, which he did. His entire response may be read here:

Related:

SC issues notice in RB Sreekumar espionage case
ISRO espionage case: Kerala HC grants protection from arrest to R.B Sreekumar
ISRO espionage case: Kerala HC grants pre-arrest bail to former Gujarat DGP RB Sreekumar, three others

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Rajasthan HC endorses police order to bar worship areas on gov't premises

Bench dismisses a PIL saying police are abiding by the state’s secular laws

29 Nov 2021

Rajasthan HC
 

The Rajasthan High Court dismissed a petition challenging the state police’s decision to prohibit shrines inside government premises in an order dated November 11, 2021.

A Bench led by Chief Justice Akil Kureshi and Justice Rekha Borana heard a PIL by petitioner Pooja Gurnani, who claimed the police had interfered with religious beliefs by issuing a circular preventing the construction of religious structures inside government areas. This circular is in line with the State Religious Buildings and Places Act 1954 that says places of worship cannot be constructed in public places, government buildings, parks and other places, unless the District Collector and civic authorities allow it.

Accordingly, the Court referred to the October 25 document and said in its order, “The operative portion is in the last paragraph [of the circular] in which, as noted above all that the authority issuing the circular desires is that the provisions of the Act of 1954 should be implemented scrupulously by all concerned. We don’t see how the petitioner can be said to be aggrieved by this circular.”

Further, the court also dismissed Gurnani’s demand that government buildings and police stations be excluded from “public places” under the 1954 Act. Justice Kureshi explained that “no direction can be issued to the legislature to frame a law in a particular manner.”

Welcoming the court’s decision, the State Chapter of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) pointed out that temple construction is done persistently across Rajasthan’s police stations.

In a previous survey of the State Secretariat courtyard, Rajasthan High Court courtyard and all other government buildings and courtyards in the first decade of the twenty-first century, it found that more than a dozen temples existed at these sites.

“There is a need for strict implementation of this order and a tremendous initiative. This means that the police department must stand with the officer who will implement this law because the forces of so-called Hindutva will suddenly fall behind on that person,” said PUCL President Kavita Srivastava.

The PUCL previously wrote many letters to various concerned officials demanding strict compliance of the said law. Following the Additional Director General of Police’s order, it called upon all government departments to issue similar circulars so that the construction of any religious structures in public areas can be stopped.

Related:

Rajasthan ADG bans temple construction on police station premises

Rajasthan to withdraw bill that mandates child marriage registration?

Bikaner hostel rape case: Rajasthan court awards life sentence to main accused, convicts two others

Rajasthan HC endorses police order to bar worship areas on gov't premises

Bench dismisses a PIL saying police are abiding by the state’s secular laws

Rajasthan HC
 

The Rajasthan High Court dismissed a petition challenging the state police’s decision to prohibit shrines inside government premises in an order dated November 11, 2021.

A Bench led by Chief Justice Akil Kureshi and Justice Rekha Borana heard a PIL by petitioner Pooja Gurnani, who claimed the police had interfered with religious beliefs by issuing a circular preventing the construction of religious structures inside government areas. This circular is in line with the State Religious Buildings and Places Act 1954 that says places of worship cannot be constructed in public places, government buildings, parks and other places, unless the District Collector and civic authorities allow it.

Accordingly, the Court referred to the October 25 document and said in its order, “The operative portion is in the last paragraph [of the circular] in which, as noted above all that the authority issuing the circular desires is that the provisions of the Act of 1954 should be implemented scrupulously by all concerned. We don’t see how the petitioner can be said to be aggrieved by this circular.”

Further, the court also dismissed Gurnani’s demand that government buildings and police stations be excluded from “public places” under the 1954 Act. Justice Kureshi explained that “no direction can be issued to the legislature to frame a law in a particular manner.”

Welcoming the court’s decision, the State Chapter of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) pointed out that temple construction is done persistently across Rajasthan’s police stations.

In a previous survey of the State Secretariat courtyard, Rajasthan High Court courtyard and all other government buildings and courtyards in the first decade of the twenty-first century, it found that more than a dozen temples existed at these sites.

“There is a need for strict implementation of this order and a tremendous initiative. This means that the police department must stand with the officer who will implement this law because the forces of so-called Hindutva will suddenly fall behind on that person,” said PUCL President Kavita Srivastava.

The PUCL previously wrote many letters to various concerned officials demanding strict compliance of the said law. Following the Additional Director General of Police’s order, it called upon all government departments to issue similar circulars so that the construction of any religious structures in public areas can be stopped.

Related:

Rajasthan ADG bans temple construction on police station premises

Rajasthan to withdraw bill that mandates child marriage registration?

Bikaner hostel rape case: Rajasthan court awards life sentence to main accused, convicts two others

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An ‘encounter’ in UP: Identical injuries, allegations of ‘cow slaughter’, Muslim daily wagers in jail?

Delhi State Committee of Communist Party of India (Marxist), writes to Uttar Pradesh, Chief Minister asking for impartial inquiry into the alleged “encounter”

27 Nov 2021

Communist Party

Image Courtesy:timesofindia.indiatimes.com

The Delhi State Committee of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), has written to UttarPradesh, Chief Minister Adityanath, on the alleged “encounter” by the Loni police in Ghaziabad district on November 11, 2021. They have put on record for the CM the events of the reported ‘encounter’ where each of the seven men have “identical uniform injuries” below the knee.

The committee has called this an act of “shocking police atrocity” adding that the police SHO was only suspended after he “publicly objected to his transfer”. The CPI(M) Committee has stated that it is “extremely unjust that without any independent inquiry, false cases have been foisted on the seven men and they have been locked up in jail,” and have called for an independent inquiry under judicial scrutiny.

The Committee has also demanded that “a case of attempt to murder and other relevant sections should be levied on the SHO and he should be arrested and prosecuted”. The letter recalled that even the local MLA Nandkishore Gurjar made “a series of highly objectionable statements with the intent of creating communal disharmony and enmity between communities.” They have called him a “serial offender in this regard” and demanded that cases be filed against him under the relevant provisions of the IPC.

It is important to note that the injured men are all Muslims. The letter highlights that this “substantiates the apprehension of many citizens in the area that they have been targeted because of their religious identity. They are all daily wage workers in the unorganised sector, taking whatever work is available. Many of them have been doing manual labour as loaders, some as street vendors, as construction workers and so on. They also all belong to the Rangrez caste and traditionally their profession has been as dyers. At present they were hired as workers to clean drums with chemicals and also to separate waste material.”

A delegation of CPI(M) members, Brinda Karat, K.M.Tewari, Sehba Farooqui, Asha Sharma, Aman Saini met the families along with local leaders. They were informed by the families “that their feet had been affected by the chemicals used to wash the drums” adding that “they have never been remotely connected with the cattle trade leave alone slaughtering cattle.” It added that “it seems that they have been made a scapegoat in a more sinister plan to create communal tension and disharmony in the area as a default electoral strategy.” Those with the gunshot injuries require proper treatment now and according to the committee the “the facilities in the jail are not adequate.” Their families are also too poor to afford lawyers, and do not have copies of the FIRs or know what charges have been filed against their sons, noted the committee members, adding that the men now in jail were the main earning members, and now their  families are also in “a financially desperate situation.”

The committee has asked that “pending the inquiry which if impartial will no doubt find the police guilty and the victims innocent, the Government should release the victims on bail without delay.”

What had happened at the “encounter”? 

Uttar Pradesh Police were forced to order a probe after Loni Police Station SHO Rajendra Tyagi, was transferred. He reportedly wrote a note in the General Diary saying he was being targeted due to the “encounter”. The “encounter” survivors, Shoaib, Mustakeen, Salman, Monu, Intezar, Nazim and another youth, who is a minor according to his family, are in judicial custody, and according to news reports had identical injuries, a few inches below the knee. The Ghaziabad police had told the media that these men had been injured after an “encounter” operation, led by Tyagi, and were accused of being involved in “cow slaughter”.

The “encounter” reportedly took place at 6.10 am on November 11 near a scrap godown that was raided in Baheta Hajipur of Loni, reported Indian Express. It was after the identical injuries on the men ‘nabbed’ were reported that questions were asked. Initially, Loni Police Station SHO Rajendra Tyagi, who led the “operation”, was transferred. However he raised a noise about the transfer. The police had made a media statement on November 11, that they “acted on a tip-off regarding cow slaughter, and that the accused fired seven rounds, and they returned fire 13 times, hitting all the accused in the leg.” The police also claimed to have recovered “three animal carcasses, seven country-made pistols, two axes, five knives, and two bundles of plastic wire from the accused.” 

Why was Inspector Tyagi transferred?

Ghaziabad SSP Pawan Kumar told the media the encounter was being probed following the police officer’s “misconduct” adding that the Inspector was suspended for “violating the Official Secrets Act” as “The entry that was made in the official document was unauthorised. Secondly, this secret document was leaked. The policeman also went on leave that had not been sanctioned.” 

Inspector Tyagi, was served transfer orders to the Indirapuram Police Station on November 12. His note as quoted by IE said, “On November 11, my team and I arrested seven persons for cow slaughtering after they were shot in the leg. We recovered carcasses of cows and a vehicle. Since I handled the operations, I believe I have been transferred for this reason. This has dented my morale. I am not in a state to work and I have never been accused of something like this… My character is of the highest standard. Before transferring me, this incident should have been probed.”

Tyagi meanwhile, has been supported by Bharatiya Janata Party’s Loni MLA Nand Kishor Gurjar. He accused police of receiving money from cow smugglers, and transferring the Inspector, “Police have taken lakhs of rupees from the cow smugglers. The SHO wanted to name the main accused but he wasn’t allowed to. He tried to take action against cow slaughter and was punished,” reported IE.

Ironically, social media recalled that Tyagi when he was as SHO of Kharkauda Police Station in Meerut, in 2018, had held himself responsible for a cow-slaughter incident in his jurisdiction, even then he had put this in a note in the General Diary.

Who is Nandkishore Gurjar?

In February he was accused by farmers of trying to break up the Ghazipur protest, which he denied and claimed that it was not even a farmer-led protest. He had also called the protesting “farmers” asking police to “shoot them” saying “his own people were ready to beat them with shoes”. 

In 2020, he was among the first political leaders to have demanded that meat sellers be forced to down their shop’s shutters during Navratri. He had also claimed his area was under an aircraft fly path and ‘bones’ etc were dangerous as they could lure birds to circle and threaten bird hits and a potential aircraft crash. He has since then been projecting himself as a Hindutva leader in his constituency.

Related:

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Krishna Janmabhoomi: Application before DM to stop namaaz at Shahi Idgah
UP ASHAs have had enough of empty election promises

An ‘encounter’ in UP: Identical injuries, allegations of ‘cow slaughter’, Muslim daily wagers in jail?

Delhi State Committee of Communist Party of India (Marxist), writes to Uttar Pradesh, Chief Minister asking for impartial inquiry into the alleged “encounter”

Communist Party

Image Courtesy:timesofindia.indiatimes.com

The Delhi State Committee of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), has written to UttarPradesh, Chief Minister Adityanath, on the alleged “encounter” by the Loni police in Ghaziabad district on November 11, 2021. They have put on record for the CM the events of the reported ‘encounter’ where each of the seven men have “identical uniform injuries” below the knee.

The committee has called this an act of “shocking police atrocity” adding that the police SHO was only suspended after he “publicly objected to his transfer”. The CPI(M) Committee has stated that it is “extremely unjust that without any independent inquiry, false cases have been foisted on the seven men and they have been locked up in jail,” and have called for an independent inquiry under judicial scrutiny.

The Committee has also demanded that “a case of attempt to murder and other relevant sections should be levied on the SHO and he should be arrested and prosecuted”. The letter recalled that even the local MLA Nandkishore Gurjar made “a series of highly objectionable statements with the intent of creating communal disharmony and enmity between communities.” They have called him a “serial offender in this regard” and demanded that cases be filed against him under the relevant provisions of the IPC.

It is important to note that the injured men are all Muslims. The letter highlights that this “substantiates the apprehension of many citizens in the area that they have been targeted because of their religious identity. They are all daily wage workers in the unorganised sector, taking whatever work is available. Many of them have been doing manual labour as loaders, some as street vendors, as construction workers and so on. They also all belong to the Rangrez caste and traditionally their profession has been as dyers. At present they were hired as workers to clean drums with chemicals and also to separate waste material.”

A delegation of CPI(M) members, Brinda Karat, K.M.Tewari, Sehba Farooqui, Asha Sharma, Aman Saini met the families along with local leaders. They were informed by the families “that their feet had been affected by the chemicals used to wash the drums” adding that “they have never been remotely connected with the cattle trade leave alone slaughtering cattle.” It added that “it seems that they have been made a scapegoat in a more sinister plan to create communal tension and disharmony in the area as a default electoral strategy.” Those with the gunshot injuries require proper treatment now and according to the committee the “the facilities in the jail are not adequate.” Their families are also too poor to afford lawyers, and do not have copies of the FIRs or know what charges have been filed against their sons, noted the committee members, adding that the men now in jail were the main earning members, and now their  families are also in “a financially desperate situation.”

The committee has asked that “pending the inquiry which if impartial will no doubt find the police guilty and the victims innocent, the Government should release the victims on bail without delay.”

What had happened at the “encounter”? 

Uttar Pradesh Police were forced to order a probe after Loni Police Station SHO Rajendra Tyagi, was transferred. He reportedly wrote a note in the General Diary saying he was being targeted due to the “encounter”. The “encounter” survivors, Shoaib, Mustakeen, Salman, Monu, Intezar, Nazim and another youth, who is a minor according to his family, are in judicial custody, and according to news reports had identical injuries, a few inches below the knee. The Ghaziabad police had told the media that these men had been injured after an “encounter” operation, led by Tyagi, and were accused of being involved in “cow slaughter”.

The “encounter” reportedly took place at 6.10 am on November 11 near a scrap godown that was raided in Baheta Hajipur of Loni, reported Indian Express. It was after the identical injuries on the men ‘nabbed’ were reported that questions were asked. Initially, Loni Police Station SHO Rajendra Tyagi, who led the “operation”, was transferred. However he raised a noise about the transfer. The police had made a media statement on November 11, that they “acted on a tip-off regarding cow slaughter, and that the accused fired seven rounds, and they returned fire 13 times, hitting all the accused in the leg.” The police also claimed to have recovered “three animal carcasses, seven country-made pistols, two axes, five knives, and two bundles of plastic wire from the accused.” 

Why was Inspector Tyagi transferred?

Ghaziabad SSP Pawan Kumar told the media the encounter was being probed following the police officer’s “misconduct” adding that the Inspector was suspended for “violating the Official Secrets Act” as “The entry that was made in the official document was unauthorised. Secondly, this secret document was leaked. The policeman also went on leave that had not been sanctioned.” 

Inspector Tyagi, was served transfer orders to the Indirapuram Police Station on November 12. His note as quoted by IE said, “On November 11, my team and I arrested seven persons for cow slaughtering after they were shot in the leg. We recovered carcasses of cows and a vehicle. Since I handled the operations, I believe I have been transferred for this reason. This has dented my morale. I am not in a state to work and I have never been accused of something like this… My character is of the highest standard. Before transferring me, this incident should have been probed.”

Tyagi meanwhile, has been supported by Bharatiya Janata Party’s Loni MLA Nand Kishor Gurjar. He accused police of receiving money from cow smugglers, and transferring the Inspector, “Police have taken lakhs of rupees from the cow smugglers. The SHO wanted to name the main accused but he wasn’t allowed to. He tried to take action against cow slaughter and was punished,” reported IE.

Ironically, social media recalled that Tyagi when he was as SHO of Kharkauda Police Station in Meerut, in 2018, had held himself responsible for a cow-slaughter incident in his jurisdiction, even then he had put this in a note in the General Diary.

Who is Nandkishore Gurjar?

In February he was accused by farmers of trying to break up the Ghazipur protest, which he denied and claimed that it was not even a farmer-led protest. He had also called the protesting “farmers” asking police to “shoot them” saying “his own people were ready to beat them with shoes”. 

In 2020, he was among the first political leaders to have demanded that meat sellers be forced to down their shop’s shutters during Navratri. He had also claimed his area was under an aircraft fly path and ‘bones’ etc were dangerous as they could lure birds to circle and threaten bird hits and a potential aircraft crash. He has since then been projecting himself as a Hindutva leader in his constituency.

Related:

Noida hate crime survivor approaches SC seeking fair investigation
Krishna Janmabhoomi: Application before DM to stop namaaz at Shahi Idgah
UP ASHAs have had enough of empty election promises

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