- Bijnor was one of the UP districts that saw large-scale violence over CAA
- 48 of the 83 arrested were granted bail by a local court in Bijnor
- Court made scathing observations against police investigations
A court in west Uttar Pradesh's Bijnor has granted bail to 48 people accused by the state police of rioting and attempted murder during last month's violent protests over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act or CAA.
Bijnor, 161 km from Delhi, was one of the UP districts that saw large-scale violence. Two people were killed during the protests there on December 20 last year, and the cops have admitted that one of those who died took a police bullet. This is the only admission of a death from police firing by the cops across the state.
Within Bijnor, a major part of the violence took place in a town called Nagina, where the police arrested a total of 83 people after violent clashes after Friday prayers on December 20. In their First Information Report (FIR), the local police said a mob of thousands gathered after Friday prayers, vandalised private vehicles and shops without provocation, broke government vehicles, threw stones at the police trying to control the situation and even fired at them.
Two days ago, when hearing the bail applications of 48 of the 83 accused, a local court judge made some scathing observations against police investigations in the case. In his bail order, the judge said, "The police FIR says the mob fired at the cops, but no evidence has been presented in court to show any recovery of weapons. The government lawyers have failed to produce any evidence in court that shows that anyone part of the mob fired at the police," the judge said.
"The police FIR in the case claims that the mob vandalised private and government vehicles and indulged in arson in shops. But no proof has been presented that any private vehicles or shops were vandalized. A police report about damage to one government vehicle has been presented, but the report was prepared at least 20 days after the violence took place. Government lawyers say 13 policemen sustained injuries in the incident, but medical reports of all these people suggest these injuries are very minor in nature," the judge added.
Large-scale violence had broken out in Uttar Pradesh in December after protests against the citizenship law turned violent at many places. As part of a crackdown, UP Police arrested thousands of people across violence-hit districts and brought serious charges like rioting and attempted murder against them. The police claimed at least 60 of their personnel had bullet injuries across the state while trying to control mobs who were indulging in vandalism, arson and firing.
But many questions have since been raised on the police action, including how the police in many areas seem to have indulged in excesses in dealing with the situation.
"The court had called for counter reports but the prosecution could not show any evidence. The police said the mob has fired but could not present any evidence. They said vehicles were smashed, but could not produce any number plates of these vehicles. The prosecution has failed to prove there as any such incident. This was fabricated by the police", said Ahmed Jakawat, lawyer for some the accused in Bijnor.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, for the first time, makes religion the test of citizenship in India. The government says it will help minorities from three Muslim-dominated countries to get citizenship if they fled to India because of religious persecution. Critics say it is designed to discriminate against Muslims and violates the secular principles of the constitution.