In-flight protest against Kerala CM: HC grants bail to 2 Youth Congress workers
The Kerala high court on Thursday granted bail to two Youth Congress workers who were arrested after their protest against chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan on board a flight on June 13.
Justice Viju Abraham granted bail to petitioners, Farzeen Majeed and Naveen Kumar, observing that further custody interrogation is not necessary considering the nature of allegations. Prosecution opposed their plea saying it was a murder attempt on the chief minister but the accused contended that raising slogans would not be a murder attempt and they were not carrying any weapon or objects as portrayed by the prosecution.
Advocate T Asif Ali, appearing for the accused, denied the charges in the first information report (FIR) and said police officials were forced to include murder attempt in the FIR. He also argued that raising slogans as part of a political protest cannot be termed as a murder attempt. The court accepted the contention and said the petitioners were arrested on June 14 and sessions court also granted custody to the investigation officer.
“There is no case that any further recovery is to be effected at their instance. If at all any recovery is to be made, it is always open for the investigating officer to do that even when the petitioners are on bail,” the court said in its ruling. It also granted pre-arrest bail to third accused Sunith Kumar who was on the run after the incident.
The ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPI(M), asked the government to file an appeal against the single bench ruling. “It was a serious offence and we have no idea how they got bail,” said CPI(M) Kannur district secretary M V Jayarajan.
The FIR said the trio boarded the aircraft as passengers and sat on the front row. After the plane landed at the Thiruvananthapuram airport on June 13, two of them started raising slogans against the chief minister and tried to come near to CM, who was seated in the middle of the aircraft. But they were overpowered by security guards and taken out of the aircraft after all passengers alighted.
The Congress said they were attacked brutally at this time and they were taken to the hospital in wheel chairs. Though the party sought action against Left Democratic Front (LDF) convenor E P Jayarajan, who was travelling with the CM, and CM’s body guards, police refused to book them. State Congress chief K Sudhakaran said the party will move the court to seek action against them.
The ruling CPI(M) termed it a “terror act” but the Congress defended the party workers saying “it was a symbolic way of protest against an oppressive regime.” The incident triggered widespread protests and more than 30 Congress offices including the party headquarters in the state capital were attacked by angry CPI(M) activists. In Payyanur (north Kerala), a statue of Mahathma Gandhi, which was erected to commemorate his 1936 visit to the town, was also vandalised by protesting CPI(M) workers on the same night (June 13).