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Court bails Muslim man accused of being part of ‘Hindu mob’ — Delhi Police unlikely to appeal

The Print logo The Print 24-01-2021 Bhadra Sinha
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New Delhi: The Delhi Police is unlikely to file an appeal against a trial court order that gave bail to a Muslim man over a month ago on the ground he could not have been part of an “unlawful assembly” that mostly consisted Hindus and killed a Muslim in a case related to the February 2020 riots in the national capital, ThePrint has learnt.

Special Public Prosecutor Manoj Chaudhary, who argued for Delhi Police in the case, told ThePrint that to his knowledge there is no move to appeal against the order pronounced on 12 December 2020.

In the order granting bail to a man named Aarif in a murder case, the court had observed, it is very “obfuscatory’ that a Muslim boy would be a part of an “unlawful assembly” comprising members of Hindu community, having a common object to cause maximum damage to the property, life and limbs of another community (Muslim).

Additional sessions judge Vinod Yadav noted in his order that in the case at hand the victim was a Muslim. Admittedly, he noted, majority of the accused persons, which formed the “unlawful assembly”, were Hindus.

Observing that Aarif was a Muslim, the judge said he was not convinced with the police theory that the applicant shared “common object” with other members of the riotous group, mostly Hindus, to kill a fellow Muslim.

“…it does not appeal to senses that applicant being a Muslim would rub shoulder to shoulder in such a surcharged atmosphere with the members of ‘unlawful assembly’, which mainly consisted of the persons of Hindu community and would beat a Muslim boy to death,” the judge said.

“So, prima facie, the applicant cannot be said to be part of the ‘unlawful assembly’ or share ‘common object’ with them on the date of incident,” ASJ Yadav held, granting bail to Aarif upon furnishing a personal bond of Rs 20,000.

The Delhi Police hasn’t challenged this order yet, and seems unlikely to do so now.

Also read: ‘Where will people like us go?’ — Nearly a year later, ‘no FIR’ in viral Delhi assault video

The arguments in court

Aarif was arrested on 16 April 2020, almost two months after the alleged offence took place. The FIR in the incident was registered on 21 March 2020, saying that during the communal riots which took place on 25 February, four dead bodies were recovered at different places.

One of them was identified to be that of Ashfaq Hussain, for which Aarif and four Hindu persons were booked for murder.

While Aarif’s advocate questioned the “unreasonable delay” in registration of the FIR as well as the arrest, Chaudhary weighed in on the gravity of the offence to counter the arguments.

The prosecutor referred to Aarif’s call detail records (CDR) to point out that he was present at the spot where the incident took place. Moreover, the CCTV footage of the site allegedly showed Aarif in possession of stones. The prosecutor said the riotous mob pelted stones, ransacked and torched many shops and caught and severely beat up three Muslim boys. The CDR pointed to Aarif’s presence at the spot as well, he said.

However, rejecting the police arguments, the judge noted that Aarif was not visible in any CCTV or video footage presented before the court. As for the CDR location, the court said Aarif was resident of the same locality so the police argument on this point was not of much consequence to the prosecution at this stage.

The judge also held that since the charge of being part of a riotous mob is not attracted against Aarif, he cannot be fastened with the liability under section 302 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which is murder. He refused to rely on Aarif’s disclosure statement to the police, saying it has got no meaning.

Aarif’s case, the court held, cannot be compared to the other accused, who was denied bail by it, as the latter belonged to the Hindu community and was part of the mob that targeted members of the other community.

Noting that the trial is likely to take a long time, Aarif, the court concluded, cannot be made to incarcerate in jail for infinity, merely on account of the fact that other persons who were part of the riotous mob have to be identified and arrested in the matter.

As part of bail conditions, the judge ordered Aarif to furnish his mobile number to SHO of Dayalpur police station, which the accused must ensure is in working condition, the court said. Further, Aarif was also asked to install Arogya Setu App on his phone.

Also read: Delhi court pulls up riots accused, represented by lawyer Mehmood Pracha, for ‘playing fraud’

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