Jamia shooter gets bail for hate speech at Pataudi mahapanchayat
The district sessions court on Monday granted bail to 19-year-old Gopal Sharma for allegedly making incendiary comments against Muslims at a mahapanchayat in Gurugram’s Pataudi on July 4.
On July 15, a Pataudi court dismissed his bail plea stating that the consequences of these kind of activities might be “far more dangerous and it may translate into communal violence”. Later that day, Sharma’s counsel challenged the decision and filed a bail plea before the sessions court. Additional sessions judge DN Bhardwaj granted him bail on Monday.
Kulbhushan Bhardwaj, Sharma’s advocate, said his client was made a scapegoat. “My client had not organised the mahapanchayat and he was not the only one who addressed the crowd; but action was taken only against him,” he said.
In his speech, Sharma allegedly called for attacks on the Muslim community. Prior to that, Gopal had grabbed headlines when he brandished a gun and opened fire at those protesting against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in Delhi’s Jamia Nagar area. He was arrested from the spot in that incident and booked under Section 307 (attempt to murder) of the Indian Penal code. He was lodged in protective custody at a correctional home for juveniles (Sharma was not 18 years old at that time) for 28 days, after which he was released.
Police said Sharma was arrested on July 12 from Sector 83 for allegedly making the “inflammatory” speech. Police said his speech could have caused riots and ruined the law and order situation of Pataudi area, where the mahapanchayat was organised to discuss “religious conversion, “love jihad” and a law to control population”. Nearly 600 people attended the mahapanchayat held on July 4, police said.
Video recordings of the mahapanchayat were shared widely on social media, prompting many to demand his arrest, following which action was taken against Sharma, said police.
He was booked under sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups) and 295A (deliberate and malicious act to outrage religious feelings) of the Indian Penal Code.