Adnan Mansuri, 18, spent 151 days in judicial custody for allegedly spitting on a Hindu religious procession in his hometown Ujjain. His home was demolished soon after the incident, citing encroachment, and the family had to find another address.
Now, after five months behind bars, the teenager is out on bail because the complainant, also the prime witness, refused to identify him. His minor brother and his cousin, also a minor, are the two other accused in the case. They were granted bail earlier.
On July 17, Adnan and his two brothers were on the terrace when a procession of Lord Mahakal – another name for Lord Shiva – taken out by devotees passed by their house. Someone shouted, “they spit, they spit”. That was it. The three boys were taken into custody.
Two days later, their home was demolished. The local administration cited encroachment. As the bulldozer went to work, a DJ system was called in. Loudspeakers blared and dhols were beaten as Adnan’s family lost their home. Ashish Agarwal, a spokesperson for the ruling BJP, then said that “those who insult Lord Shiva will have to be prepared for Shiv Tandav too”.
Adnan and his brothers, meanwhile, were charged with outraging religious feelings, promoting enmity, disturbing religious assembly and public mischief. The case was filed on a complaint by Ujjain resident Sawan Lot. While his minor brothers were granted bail, he remained behind bars.
This Monday, a single-judge bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court in Indore granted bail to Adnan. In its two-page order, the judge noted that complainant Sawan Lot, also the prosecution’s witness number 1, and Ajay Khatra, witness number 2, turned hostile before the trial court and did not support the prosecution’s case.
Speaking to NDTV, Sawan Lot said he did not know Adnan. “I don’t know the boy whose video was shown to me, I don’t know him. A direct video call was made from the jail to the court. I refused to identify him,” he said. However, Mr Lot said, he had seen the other two boys at the spot of the incident on July 17 and had identified them. The complainant added that demolishing Adnan’s house “was not needed”.
Devendra Singh Sengar, counsel for the accused, said the developments in the case show that the matter was not investigated properly. “The high court noted that the complainant didn’t support the prosecution’s theory that was mentioned in the FIR. He refused to identify the accused and also said he had not seen the incident taking place. The prosecution’s other witness, Ajay Khatri, also turned hostile and didn’t identify Adnan as the one who committed the alleged offence,” he told NDTV.
“This exposes that in such a religiously sensitive case, the police haven’t investigated the matter carefully and seriously. Even the house of the family of the accused was demolished by the administration and the family was harassed,” he added.
Adnan’s father Ashraf has lost his home but his happy that his son is back. “I don’t want anything from anyone, the children have been granted bail. Now I just want them to be acquitted, that’s all I want. I don’t care about what happened,” he told NDTV.
Asked about the demolition of his house, he replied, “The anti-encroachment campaign is about to begin so the house would have been demolished anyway. I have to run a shop there. Everyone knows something wrong has happened. We just want the children to be safe.”
Post a comment At Kharakuwa police station, where the FIR was filed, cops are tight-lipped. Asked about the case, police officer Livan Kujur said, “The investigation has been completed and the charge sheet filed in the court. The matter is sub-judice, so we can’t say much.