By Satish Jha / DHNS
Arguing for bail, an advocate appearing for some of those accused in the 2016 Una Dalit flogging case told the Gujarat High Court that the cow vigilantes thought those skinning the animals were from a minority community.
However, the HC Judge reprimanded the lawyer, telling him “it was not a welcome argument.”
“The niceties of this offence is that these are all Gau Rakshaks (cow vigilantes) under the impression that a live cow was being killed and the meat were removed. Nobody knew that these are the persons who were not the minority people (sic),” Advocate B M Mangukiya said, while arguing for the release of the accused on bail.
Hearing which, justice Nikhil Kariel objected to Mangukiya’s submission and said, “That is not a good thing to say…trying to differentiate between two communities… not a welcome argument.”
Mangukiya went on to say, “I know it… but this is what the intention appears to be. Therefore… nobody wanted to assault these persons knowing that these persons are not of that community.”
Mangukiya was arguing for the accused persons who are behind the bars ever since their arrest in July 2016 for beating up four Dalit youths for skinning a dead cow. The incident had occured on July 11 at Mota Samadhiyala village of Una taluka in Gir-Somnath district. The police had chargesheeted 34 accused of which 30 are out on bail. They were booked for attempt to murder, kidnapping, along with criminal conspiracy and various sections of Prevention of Atrocities Act.
Mangukiya argued that the maximum punishment they could get was under IPC Section 307 (attempt to murder) and since the accused have already spent near six years in jail, they should be granted bai. The assistant government prosecutor opposing the bail pleas stated that the four started the offence and since the trial is still ongoing, they shouldn’t be granted relief.
Appearing for one of the victims—Vasram Sarvaiya—advocate Megha Jani also opposed the bail while giving details of how gruesome the offence was in the recent past under the atrocity act. She said that the four accused behind the bars are the ones who “set the tone” and a crowd followed at the scene of the offence where the victims were beaten up and herded into a vehicle. They were taken to Una and on the way, they stopped and attacked the victims again.
She further said that in Una, the victims were paraded half naked through the market, beaten up and were handed over to police. Jani argued that unlike the offenders who would run away from the scene after committing the offence, these accused handed over the victims to the police. She said that it is a classic example which is sought to be prevented under atrocity acts.
Justice Kariel said that he agreed “that the incident is quite serious” and that such “kind of vigilante justice should not be permitted.” He asked Jani what are the special circumstances based on which these four accused can’t be granted bail as parity with their co-accused. She responded that the trial is still not over and the victims are yet to enter the witness box…80 witnesses have been examined and it is at a crucial stage.” The hearing will continue on Monday.
This article first appeared in deccanherald.com