A month on, police struggle to make charges stick against anti-CAA protesters in Muzaffarnagar
Police are now dropping serious charges registered against 259 people
Almost a month after the police accused around 259 people of rioting, arson and attempt to murder during protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) in Muzaffarnagar and arrested around 82 persons, local courts have granted bail to almost 40 of them, dropping serious charges against them.
On Saturday, three students of madrasa Hoja Ilimiya were granted bail by Chief Judicial Magistrate Ravikant Yadav, after serious charges, including Section 307, were dropped against them. Only Sections 188 (violation of Section 144) and 143 (unlawful assembly) remain against them.
On Friday, District Judge Sanjay Kumar Pachauri allowed the bail pleas of 14 arrested in connection with the protest on December 20, 2019, and directed that they be released after furnishing sureties of Rs 1 lakh each.
Ten students of madrasa Hoja Ilimya, who were arrested from Sadaat Hostel, were granted bail earlier this month. The police did not find any evidence against them except for the violation of prohibitory orders.
Five students of the same madrasa and four government officials were earlier released under Section 169 of the Code of Criminal Procedure for want of evidence.
“It shows the police are struggling to make the charges stick,” said Akram Akhtar, advocate and social activist. “However, the police are still detaining people because they have a long list of unnamed persons to fill. Still, there has been no action against people who targeted shops of Muslims on the day of the protest,” he added.
Local sources said police randomly picked people from the site of protest. A special investigation team went through the CCTV details and released people on its basis. “They have to show that due process is being followed,” said a local journalist, requesting anonymity. He alleged that the release of students was a kind of give and take with the madrasa authorities, considering the latter had almost given a clean chit to the police.
Advocate Ali Zaidi of Human Rights Law Network, who has filed a PIL petition in the Allahabad High Court on police excesses in Muzaffarnagar, said: “The FIR against thousands of unnamed persons could become a tool of repression in the hands of local police and would encourage corruption.” Interestingly, charges are also being added as the police added sections of Juvenile Act, 2015 against 33 people for inciting children to throw stones.
Atul Kumar, Additional District Magistrate, said due process was being followed. “The charges can only be dropped at the stage of chargesheet. In cases, where no evidence has been found, people are being released under section 169 of CrPc.”