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Men ‘beaten in UP Police custody for Prophet protest’ released, court cites ‘deficient proof’

Lawyer says four men ‘honorably discharged by Saharanpur court after no evidence was found against them’. Videos of alleged assault had gone viral.

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New Delhi: Four men who were allegedly assaulted in police custody in Saharanpur in light of the protests triggered by former BJP spokespersons’ controversial remarks about Prophet Mohammed have been released.

According to the order issued by a local court, they were discharged after police didn’t find any evidence against them. 

While the order is dated 1 July, the men were released Sunday along with four others arrested during the protests.

The eight men were discharged under Section 169 of the CrPC — “release of accused when evidence deficient”. The men were released on a bond of Rs 50,000, and an undertaking that they will appear before the court whenever summoned. 

Speaking to ThePrint, the lawyer representing the four men, Babar Waseem, confirmed their release. “They have been honorably discharged by the court after no evidence was found against them. We had filed a plea of alibi (which claims the suspects were someplace else at the time of the alleged crime) in the matter.” 

The eight men released are Mohammed Ali, Asif, Mohammed Kaif, Gulfaam, Mehraaz, Furkan, Subhan, Abdul Samad. 

The alleged custodial assault came to light after a purported video showing police personnel charging down on a row of men — in a room that appears to be police premises — went viral. 

Uttar Pradesh BJP MLA Shalabh Mani Tripathi had posted the video with the message, “A return gift”.

UP Police later said they were investigating if the video indeed pertained to state police, and would take action “if need be”.  

Ali, Kaif, Subhan, and Mehraj are believed to be among the men seen in the video. 

Soon after, more videos of the incident surfaced. One showed the men being made to stand against a wall. One person — identified as Mohammad Ali by his family — is heard saying in the video “mera haath nahi chal raha hai (my hand isn’t working)” even as police personnel allegedly continue to hit him. 

A total of 86 men were arrested in Saharanpur in connection with the protests. The FIR was lodged under the IPC sections for attempt to murder and rioting, among others. 

Reached for comment about the court order, Akash Tomar, the Saharanpur senior superintendent of police (SSP) when the videos came out, said he had been transferred and his successor hadn’t taken charge yet. 

Saharanpur District Magistrate Akhilesh Singh said “the SSP had directed SP city Rajesh Kumar for an inquiry”. “It hasn’t been completed yet,” he added. 

Kumar didn’t respond to ThePrint’s calls or messages. 

‘Not backed by evidence’

Lawyer Waseem said the allegations against his clients “weren’t backed by any evidence”. 

“The time of arrest is shown as 3 pm. However, they weren’t at the spot where the protest had broken out at that time,” he added. 

When ThePrint visited the family of Mohammad Ali last month, they had denied his involvement in the protests.

His family said Ali, along with some friends, performed namaz at a different mosque that day and went to a vendor to buy a scooty. 

Subhan’s brother Asif Ali told ThePrint Monday that they were “relieved he is back home now”. 

“But how is this justice in any way?” he added. 

Asif had earlier said that, on the day of his arrest, Subhan had left home seeking help for a friend who had been apprehended by the police.

(Edited by Sunanda Ranjan)


Also Read: ‘Will my husband come back alive?’ Families fear for UP men ‘tortured in custody’ in viral video


 

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