UP: Court grants bail to 48 CAA protesters, slams police
Though Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) prompted protests across India, it was most violent in Uttar Pradesh where cops went on an overdrive to "punish" protesters. Bullets were fired, people were lathi-charged, and by the time the fury subsided, over 20 were dead. But this week, a court in Bijnor came down heavily on police, as it granted bail to 48 people accused of arson.
Understanding why a new law on citizenship made citizens furious
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government passed CAA last month, meant to favor persecuted non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, while getting Indian citizenship. But, critics said by excluding Muslims, Centre showed its bigoted nature. Further, there is a fear that the National Register of Citizens (NRC)-CAA combine, will alienate Muslims of this country. Demanding to scrap the law, thousands came on the streets.
Started in Northeast, protests spread like wildfire
The protest against CAA started in the Northeast, where residents were concerned it will lead to an influx of Bangladeshi immigrants. Eventually, it spread to other parts of India. As normal life was affected, BJP assured protesters they have nothing to fear, but to no avail. Some protesters turned violent in UP, burning buses and vandalizing public property, "forcing" police to take harsh steps.
In India's most populous state, internet was snapped
To keep a check on violence, UP administration, under Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath snapped internet, imposed Section 144 of CrPC (that bans a group from moving together), while police used force on protesters. In Bijnor, two people were killed during December 20's protest, when agitation after Friday prayers turned violent. Cops themselves admitted that one of them died due to bullet injury.
83 were arrested, 48 were granted bail
The major part of the violence took part in Nagina town of Bijnor, where 83 people were arrested for violence. In the FIR, cops said the protesters vandalized vehicles, including police vans, threw stones at police and even fired at them. But two days ago, a local court granted bail to 48 people, saying the charges leveled by cops didn't hold water.
No evidence to show mob fired bullets: Judge
"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 fired at the police," said the judge.
Cops weren't grievously injured, shops weren't vandalized: Judge
Pulling up the cops, the judge said no proof was presented that mob vandalized public property. "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," he said. Dismissing claims that 13 policemen were injured in the violence, the judge highlighted medical reports said they only suffered minor injuries.
Defense lawyer claimed cops fabricated accusations
About the hearing, Ahmed Jakawat, a lawyer who argued for some of the accused, said police couldn't provide 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," he said.
UP is also making protesters pay for damage
Ironically, UP also became the first state to ask protesters to pay for damages incurred during protests, or face the risk of having their property seized. Adityanath's office claimed this move has stunned protesters. "Everyone has been silenced after seeing Yogi Adityanath government's strict actions. Do whatever now, compensation will be taken from anyone who damages public property," CMO tweeted last month.