: The Judicial First Class Magistrate Court will on Friday give its verdict on the bail applications of Salim Raj, former gunman of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, and six others who were arrested here on charges of kidnapping.

Magistrate P.T. Prakashan continued hearing the arguments on their bail pleas for the second day here on Thursday. On Wednesday, the court had asked the Chevayur police, which had registered the case, to submit additional statements of the complainant Prasannan, hailing from Oachira.

Salim Raj, 42, and his gang were arrested on the charge of manhandling Mr. Prasannan on the Karikkamkulam-Balussery road at night. Mr. Prasannan and Rasheeda Beevi, who were travelling in a car, were chased by the gang in a multi-utility vehicle.

The intervention of the local people foiled the alleged attempt to kidnap the complainant. The accused were charged with Sections 365 (kidnapping or abducting with intent secretly and wrongfully to confine persons), 143 (unlawful assembly), 144 (unlawful assembly armed with deadly weapons), and 506 (1) (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). They were now remanded in judicial custody.

However the police on Thursday while submitting the additional statement of the complainant replaced Section 365 with Section 364 (kidnapping or abducting in order to murder) of IPC.

M. Shahir Singh, who appeared for the accused, argued that the police had deliberately foisted a fresh charge of Section 364 when no kidnapping had taken place. This was when the first information report had mentioned only Section 506 (i) (criminal intimidation) and not Section 506 (ii) (if threat be to cause death or grievous hurt) of the IPC, he said.

He said that none of the accused had any criminal background. No cases had been registered against any of them except one person against whom a cheating case had been registered. No weapons had been recovered from them and that it was inappropriate to call the accused a hired gang.

The seven members had reached Kozhikode city searching for a person in connection with a case registered at the Oachira police station.

The others accused in the case were Riju, 28; Irshad Basheer, 24; Siddique, 37; Sattar, 37; Shamnad, 29; and Junaid, 32.

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