New Delhi: Former Gurugram municipal councillor Nisha Singh’s presence was “the only reason for the violence” that followed an anti-encroachment drive at Sector 47’s Jharsa Basti in 2015, a local court observed last week as it sentenced her to seven years of rigorous imprisonment.
“The moment Nisha Singh was removed from the spot, the mob went silent,” it remarked.
Accused of inciting a mob to attack a team of policemen and government officials, the ex-councillor has been convicted, along with 16 others, in connection with the 2015 violence. At least 15 police officers were injured in the incident as petrol bombs and LPG cylinders were allegedly hurled at them and members of Haryana’s urban development authority.
Nisha is among 10 women convicted in the case, all sentenced to seven years in prison, while the seven male convicts got 10 years.
The former councillor studied abroad and had a career in the corporate sector before she took the plunge into politics while in her thirties. She joined the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in 2014.
ThePrint sought to clarify whether she is still a member of the party from AAP MLA Atishi and an AAP spokesperson via phone calls and messages, but did not receive a response from either. This article will be updated when they respond.
All others convicted in the case are former residents of the now demolished portion of Jharsa Basti.
The 17 accused were convicted under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code, including sections 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions), 325 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt), 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty), 333 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt to deter public servant from his duty), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), and 436 (mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to destroy house etc) of the IPC. However, they were acquitted under section 307 (attempt to murder).
In addition to these, Nisha was also convicted under section 114 (abettor present when offence is committed).
From corporate job to AAP
After studying engineering in Mumbai University, Nisha did her MBA from London Business School in 2005. She then returned to India and joined Google. She also worked with Siemens for some time but ultimately decided to get into politics.
In 2011, she contested the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) elections as an Independent and was elected as councillor from ward no. 30. She joined AAP in 2014.
She served as councillor till 2016, about a year after the violence.
In 2017, AAP leader Atishi had referred to Neha as “the dynamo behind Anganwadi reforms in Delhi”.
During her trial, Nisha told the court that her husband lives abroad and her father had passed away, because of which she is responsible for her mother, in-laws and two school-going children.
What happened in 2015
According to the case diary public prosecutor Pradeep Kumar read out in the court of Additional Sessions Judge Mona Singh, a team from the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) — now the Haryana Shahari Vikas Pradhikaran (HSVP) — arrived at Jharsa along with police personnel on 15 May, 2015, to clear debris from a demolition drive conducted earlier.
When HUDA officials reached the spot, they found a mob of encroachers being instigated by Nisha Singh, the prosecution submitted. The officials said the mob threatened to attack them as well as the police officers, and soon started hurling stones, it added.
The prosecution further claimed that at one point, the mob even hurled petrol bombs and LPG cylinders at the group, which led to a fire. In the process, the duty magistrate and 15 police officers suffered injuries.
‘Might have started instigating voters through phone’
In Nisha Singh’s case, the court, during the trial, was examining whether the officials had suffered injuries at the hands of a mob instigated by her.
The prosecution examined 33 witnesses, of which six turned hostile during the trial. One of the witnesses, a police officer, claimed that Nisha was “continuously and verbally encouraging the mob to attack the administration with more violence”.
Another claimed that Nisha got into a scuffle with sub-inspector Rani Devi, due to which the latter’s finger got fractured.
Nisha’s lawyers contended that she was not present when the mob allegedly started throwing stones at the officials, and that she reached the spot only half an hour later. They also claimed that her mobile phone was snatched and the police ignored her requests for a medico-legal examination as she was also injured.
The court, however, rejected the argument and observed: “…being municipal councillor, her zeal to help her voters of the area where public servants had come to remove unauthorised encroachments from the government land, sufficiently proved that accused Nisha was there and in doing so, she had adopted lawful/unlawful manner.”
The court also said that even though Nisha was not present when the stone hurling started, it can be presumed that in order to “please the voters of her constituency”, she “might have started instigating her voters through phone”.
Furthermore, based on photographic and videographic evidence, the court said that Nisha was “continuously shouting slogans against the administration”.
“The moment Nisha Singh was removed from the spot, the mob went silent,” the court further said, adding that this showed that Singh’s presence was “the only reason for the violence”.
(Edited by Gitanjali Das)