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Five day police remand for Mevani in `molestation’ case

Defence lawyer asks why Cong legislator was escorted by a female police official

GUWAHATI:

Congress legislator from Gujarat Jignesh Mevani was remanded to five days in police custody by the court of the chief judicial magistrate of Barpeta on Tuesday, a day after the Dalit leader was rearrested for “outraging the modesty” of a woman police sub-inspector (SI).

Soon after the court’s order, Mevani’s defence lawyer, Angshuman Bora, speaking to the press, alleged  discrepancies in the court’s proceedings.

“The public prosecutor (PP) of Gauhati High Court has appeared on behalf of the police without any authority of the government. He is the PP of Gauhati High Court, not of the Barpeta chief judicial magistrate (CJM) court. He can only appear as a special PP with the due authority of the government,” said Bora.

Alleging anomalies in the case registered with the Barpeta Road Police, Bora further asked why was Mevani escorted by a female police official. “Why was the woman police officer escorting a male? He was escorted by 30 police officers and in such a situation, it was alleged that he committed this kind of an offence,” he said, pointing the needle of suspicion to the veracity of the case. “We are hopeful that the judiciary will protect us and the law of the land will prevail,” he added.

Earlier in the day, the Congressman was produced in the court at around 11 am before the arrival of his defence lawyers.

“This is a conspiracy of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) against me. But I will not bow down and will continue to fight,” said Mevani, before being produced in the court.

During the court proceedings, the police sought custody for 10 days, but the court granted a five-day police custody. He will be produced before the court on May 2.

Mevani was rearrested on Monday for allegedly assaulting a woman police sub-inspector while being taken to Kokrajhar from Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi International (LGBI) Airport in Guwahati on April 21. A case No 81/22 under Section 294/323/353/354 of IPC was registered against Mevani based on a complaint lodged by SI Debika Brahma of Kokrajhar Police Station at the Barpeta Road Police Station.

“He (/Mevani) assaulted me during the execution of my legal duty of being a public servant and outraged my modesty by touching me inappropriately while pushing me,” the complainant had said.

Meanwhile, Congress MP Abdul Khaleque, legislator Jyotish Sikdar and several senior leaders of the party too were arrested from the court premises for protesting against the arrest of the Congressman in, what they said, is a “manipulated case”.

Condemning the rearrest of Mevani, leader of the opposition in the state, Debabrata Saikia, said the treatment meted out to the Gujrat legislator showed how democracy is under threat in the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-led government. “The arrest has set a wrong precedent. There is no freedom of speech in the country,” Saikia said, addressing the press, on Tuesday.

Saikia also alleged that the police have violated the rules set by the Supreme Court in such cases. “The police should issue notice to Mevani for giving his clarification. Later, if they are not satisfied with his answer, they could have very well arrested him. But in this case, the police had not even issued a notice to the legislator,” Saikia said.

Governor Jagdish Mukhi, on the other hand, refused to meet a delegation of Congress MLAs, who went to Raj Bhawan to submit a memorandum against Mevani’s arrest.

A delegation of the Congress-led by Saikia also met Speaker of Assam Legislative Assembly Biswajit Daimary in this regard.

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