Bhopal: Subhash Koli, who repairs satellite dish antennae in Mohad village of Madhya Pradesh, has been in hiding since the weekend, when he told a local court that the police fabricated a case against 15 villagers for celebrating Pakistan's victory over India in the Champions Trophy final on June 18.
The police had filed a case of sedition against the Muslim men for allegedly bursting firecrackers, chanting pro-Pakistan slogans and distributing sweets during the cricket match and after Pakistan's win. In the first information report, they named Subhash Koli as the person who complained. The charges were later revised to more lenient sections. Today, they were released on bail.
But Mr Koli has said that he made no complaint. "Some people, possibly miscreants, did burst firecrackers...but the only slogans raised that night were Vande Mataram...Bharat Mata Ki Jai," he has said in a statement in court on Saturday.
He told NDTV just before he went into hiding, "Nobody chanted pro-Pakistan slogans...or distributed sweets." Mr Koli has alleged that he has been threatened by the police "even inside the court."
Subhash Koli said he did visit the police station late on the night of June 18, but only to request cops to release one of the young Muslim men from his village who they had rounded up. He said he thought that since he is Hindu, the police were more likely to believe him when he told them that his neighbour had not celebrated Pakistan's win. "Anis did not even know who won. He was asked his name and picked him up because of that," Mr Koli alleged.
At the police station, he said, "the police slapped me when I said my name is Subhash." He has told court that a cop then snatched his phone and called in a complaint with the control room against the 15 men, identifying himself as Subhash.
"These days, you can check the location of the place from where a call was made... Please check... It wasn't made from Mohad village," Mr Koli said.
The police have a written complaint that they say was signed by Subhash Koli, but he said he signed a piece of paper under the impression that it would help secure the release of his neighbour.
"The case is still being investigated. If some information comes up which was not in our knowledge earlier, we will probe it," said RRS Parihar, a top police officer of Burhanpur district, apparently unaware or unmoved by Subhash Koli's statement.
Mr Parihar insisted that firecrackers were still being burst in the district's Mohad village when a police team reached it on June 18.
The police had initially charged the 15 young men they arrested with sedition, a crime punishable with a life term in prison. After widespread criticism of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan's Madhya Pradesh government for what civil society activists called "abuse of the law," the police said they had dropped sedition charge and were instead charging the men with disturbing communal harmony.
The police has claimed that Mohad village has a history of communal tension, but villagers deny that.