Jignesh Mevani threatens to call for Gujarat Bandh on June 1 | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Jignesh Mevani threatens to call for Gujarat Bandh on June 1

ByUtpal Parashar and Snehashish Roy
May 02, 2022 11:47 PM IST

Jignesh Mevani said his arrest by the Assam Police over a purported tweet against Prime Minister Narendra Modi showed the BJP’s ‘intentions and priority’ amid other serious issues.

GUWAHATI/NEW DELHI: The Gauhati high court (HC) on Monday stayed some observations made by a lower court last week against Assam Police when the latter granted bail to Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani in a case of alleged assault of a woman police officer.

Jignesh Mevani said the Congress will call for a Gujarat Bandh if the Centre does not take back cases filed against the members of the minority community in Vadgam and during the Una movement. (PTI)
Jignesh Mevani said the Congress will call for a Gujarat Bandh if the Centre does not take back cases filed against the members of the minority community in Vadgam and during the Una movement. (PTI)

The HC made it clear that the stay on the observations “may not be construed in any manner as a stay to the grant of bail” to Mevani by the lower court and added that the Assam government “shall be at liberty to challenge the said (bail) order in an appropriate proceedings, if so advised”.

Mevani, a convener of Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch, who had offered support to Congress last year, was first arrested on the night of April 20 in Gujarat’s Palanpur and brought to the northeastern state by Assam’s Kokrajhar district police in connection with a first information report (FIR) filed by a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader over “offensive” tweets about Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Hours after he was granted bail on April 25, he was re-arrested by Barpeta police on charges of assaulting a woman police officer while being taken to Kokrajhar from Guwahati.

On April 29, he was granted bail by a Barpeta court which criticised the police and urged the Gauhati HC to direct the state police force to “reform itself”.

On Monday, the state government, through its home department, filed a petition in the HC, seeking a stay on the observations made by the Barpeta district and sessions judge Aparesh Chakravarty on the grounds that these cast aspersions on the police and could affect their morale.

In his bail order on April 29, Chakravarty said the case against the independent MLA “was manufactured for the purpose of keeping him in detention for a longer period, abusing the process of the court and the law”.

“These findings are prima facie beyond the exercise of the jurisdiction of the sessions court in a proceeding under Section 439 (dealing with bail) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.PC) and accordingly the said observation is stayed,” Justice Devashis Baruah of the high court said in his order on Monday.

In his 13-page order, Chakravarty raised questions about the growing incidents of deaths and injuries of accused persons in Assam following their arrest and alleged attempts to escape from police custody. “Send a copy of this order to the Registrar General of the Hon’ble Gauhati High Court for placing the same before the Hon’ble Chief Justice to look into this aspect of the matter and to consider whether the matter may be taken up as a PIL to curb the ongoing police excesses in the state,” Chakravarty added.

The Barpeta court also observed that to “prevent registration of false FIR”, the HC could direct Assam Police “to reform itself by taking some measures… to give credibility to police version of occurrences”.

Instances of accused persons attempting to escape from police custody at midnight, while the accused was allegedly leading the police personnel to discover something, and the police personnel firing and thus, killing or injuring such accused has “become a routine phenomenon in the state”, the court noted.

The lower court also said that the HC could consider directing the police to ensure that every personnel engaged in law-and-order duty wear body cameras, install CCTV cameras in vehicles while arresting an accused or taking an accused to some place for discovery of some articles, and also install CCTV cameras inside all police stations.

“Otherwise, our society will become a police state, which the society can ill afford… converting our hard-earned democracy into a police state is simply unthinkable and if the Assam Police is thinking about the same, the same is perverse thinking,” the order read.

“These observations were made without there being any materials on record, on the basis of which the learned judge could have made the observations and consequently, this court stays the observations until further orders,” Justice Baruah said.

The HC also sent notices to Mevani and the woman police officer who had lodged the case against the Gujarat MLA and fixed May 27 as the next date of hearing.

“The court agreed to our contention that the observations made by the lower court while granting bail to Mevani were not required. The Assam government will file a separate petition in HC seeking cancellation of the Gujarat MLA’s bail,” Assam advocate general Debajit Saikia said.

Senior advocate Angshuman Bora, who represented Mevani in the lower court, said: “The HC order staying some observations made by the lower court against Assam Police doesn’t have any impact on the bail granted to the Gujarat MLA.”

Meanwhile, Mevani alleged that his recent arrest in two cases is a “pre-planned conspiracy” designed by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to “destroy” him ahead of the assembly elections later this year.

“My arrest the Assam Police was a pre-planned conspiracy. It was in blatant disregard to protocol and rules for an MLA,” Mevani told reporters at the Congress headquarters here earlier in the day.

The legislator also sought action against those behind the recent leak of 22 exam papers, the recent recovery of “ 1.75 lakh-crore” worth of drugs from the Mundra Port and demanded withdrawal of all cases against Dalits in Una and minorities in the state.

“If these demands are not fulfilled, then the Gujarat chapter of Congress will observe a Gujarat bandh on June 1,” he said.

“Mevani has just got bail from court, the case against him hasn’t been dismissed. He made certain observations against the Prime Minister in his tweet following which an FIR was registered against him in Assam. The state police just acted on the FIR and arrested him. The case is in court now and let the law take its own course,” said BJP Assam spokesperson Subhash Dutta.

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