KANCHEEPURAM: A donkey seized during a protest demonstration on Monday was produced before Judicial Magistrate Court-I on Tuesday.
The donkey was `impounded' from the agitation venue at Kavalan Gate where an NGO, Makkal Mandram, staged a protest to condemn the inordinate delay in issuance of land pattas to Irulas.
Though the organisers had obtained police permission, they were arrested based on a complaint by a Revenue Department employee at the instance of his seniors. The complaint stated that the manner in which the demonstration was held had "derided" the district administration and the government machinery.
Subsequently, the demonstrators were arrested and materials used for the demonstration shamiana, mats, loudspeakers, amplifier sets seized. The donkey was `confiscated' and recorded as a piece of evidence seized from the "scene of crime."
But, this got the police into trouble. When they went to Judicial Magistrate-I G. Uthamaraj's residence on Monday night to remand the arrested persons and produced the `materials' seized, the Magistrate directed the investigation officer to keep the donkey in police custody and produce it court on Tuesday.
Shocked by the development, the police pleaded with the Magistrate that the donkey could be immediately handed over to its owner. The Magistrate said the animal could be handed over after obtaining an assurance letter that it will be produced in court on Tuesday for completing formalities related to returning seized property.
Defence lawyer Parvendan said he was unable to understand why the police had included the donkey as evidence material in this case. Citing an example, he said revenue and police officials let off cattle used to draw carts transporting illegally quarried sand. "Only the carts are shown as the material seized." Expressing a similar view, a police officer said the police could have chased away the animal after arresting the demonstrators.