BJP member Ashwini Upadhyay, arrested over violent anti-Muslim slogans raised at a protest in Delhi's Jantar Mantar, was granted bail today.
He was arrested yesterday along with five others and charged with inciting religious enmity. Questions were raised over the two day delay in police action despite videos of the protest held on Sunday circulating online.
A court in Delhi, granting him bail, asked him to deposit Rs 50,000.
The arrests had followed widespread outrage over videos that showed a group shouting inflammatory slogans threatening Muslims at Jantar Mantar, a protest site barely a km from parliament and the country's top government offices.
In its order, the court said there was nothing on record to show that the "alleged hate speech to promote enmity between different groups was done in the presence or at the behest of the applicant/accused". It also noted that there was no chance that the accused would skip town.
"Conspiracy is no doubt hatched behind closed doors and the investigation is at a nascent stage. That however, does not imply that liberty of a citizen be curtailed on mere assertions and apprehension," said the judge.
Mr Upadhyay's lawyer had argued that he was not present during the slogan-shouting as he had left the protest by then. Urging the court to watch the videos before deciding on his bail, he said: "The onus of something that happened after me going away from the place of occurrence cannot be placed on me."
Mr Upadhyay - who is a member of the Delhi BJP executive - had said the protest march against outdated colonial laws was organised by Save India Foundation. "I don't have any relation with Save India Foundation Trust. I was a guest like RVS Mani, Firoz Bakht Ahmed, Gajendra Chauhan. We reached at around 11 am and left at 12 am. I never met these miscreants," he had said before his arrest.
The police claim they had denied permission to the protest over Covid precautions but a crowd showed up.