HC reserves order on 2nd sedition FIR against Hardik Patel

Hardik allegedly asked his supporters to torch police chowkies and murder cops

Ahmedabad: The Gujarat High Court on Sunday reserved its order after hearing arguments on a plea of Patel quota agitation leader Hardik Patel and five others seeking quashing of FIR against them by city Crime Branch on stringent charges of sedition and waging war against government.

During the arguments in the court of Justice J B Pardiwala, public prosecutor Mitesh Amin strongly defended the stand of Crime Branch in slapping stringent charges against Hardik and five other quota leaders -- Ketan Patel, Chirag Patel, Dinesh Patel, Alpesh Kathiriya and Amrish Patel.

According to Amin, the FIR against them is based on call interceptions made by Crime Branch. In all, the Crime Branch has recorded more than 200 such calls made by these Patel leaders between July and September this year, he said.

Amin alleged that the conversations were of "very caustic" in nature, such as the accused could be heard asking their supporters to torch police chowkies, dislodge railway tracks and murder policemen.

These conversations were made as part of an attempt to topple the government, the prosecutor argued.

Apart from the calls, police learnt that as many as 35 lakh messages, urging the community to resort to violence, were sent using social media platform immediately after Hardik was detained by police on the night of August 25.

Amin submitted that the fallout of such communication was the statewide violence, which claimed seven lives, including that of a policeman.

In the FIR filed on October 21, Patel leaders are charged under IPC sections 121 (waging war against the government), 124 (sedition -- bringing hatred, contempt or disaffection towards the government), 153-A (promoting enmity between different communities) and 153-B (assertions prejudicial to national integrity).

Countering the prosecution's arguments, Hardik's lawyer B M Mangukiya said that people have all the right to express their dissent against the government, as it is a fundamental right in a democracy.

He said that even if people get aggressive in their expression, it does not amount to sedition or waging of war against the government.

According to him, dislodging railway tracks does not amount to sedition or waging war, as such protests take place across India frequently, yet no one is booked under such stringent charges.

He also argued that the protests, though may be violent, were against the elected government run by the ruling party (BJP), and not against sovereignty of the government.

After the conclusion of the arguments, Justice Pardiwala reserved the order.

This is the second case of sedition against Hardik. The first case was filed by Surat Police on October 19 against him for allegedly advising a Patel youth "to kill policemen rather than commit suicide".

The 22-year-old firebrand leader is in the custody of Crime Branch in connection with the second sedition case till Tuesday.

The other two accused -- Chirag Patel and Ketan Patel -- are in the custody of the city's Special Operations Group.

Another accused Dinesh Patel is in the custody of Mehsana Police, while Alpesh Kathiriya and Amrish Patel were earlier granted interim relief from arrest by the high court.

( Source : PTI )
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