Protest against Lakhimpur incident: Families of three youths held over burning CM Yogi’s effigy

All the 16 arrested were produced before a court. Sources said that police failed to produce the CD showing the involvement of the accused.

Nearly a week after 16 people were arrested in connection with the burning of an effigy of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in Meerut, Monu Chaudhary and his wife Poonam have been pursuing every lawyer in the district for securing bail for their 18-year-old son Dushyant, a BBA first-year student.

On October 4 evening, a group of people was allegedly trying to burn an effigy of the chief minister against the mowing down of four farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri when some policemen tried to take hold of the effigy, and in melee two cops, including a police inspector, sustained burn injuries.

All the 16, including some Samajwadi Party members, who were arrested, have been booked for attempt to murder and two more non-bailable sections of the IPC and CrPC. Two more have been named in the FIR but have not been arrested yet.

However, the parents of Dushyant Chaudhary said that he and his friend Shekhar Dungar, also a BBA first-year student, were not involved in the protests.

“My son and his friend Shekhar Dungar have an acquaintance Pradeep Sardana, who is associated with the Samajwadi Party. Pradeep had called Dushyant and Shekhar around 4.30 pm on October 4 and asked them to arrange food and water for him and others detained by the police.

Dushyant and Shekhar rushed to the Civil Lines Police Station with water bottles and a bunch of bananas, but both of them were arrested,” Monu Chaudhary, 42, who runs a small dairy with his wife at Meerut’s Ekta Nagar, said.

Arjun Dangar, the father of Shekhar, also said that his son was not involved in the protest.

“My 18-year-old son Shekhar was accompanying his friend Dushyant Chaudhary to the Civil Lines police station to give water bottles and fruits to the Samajwadi Party workers who were detained in connection with the protest. But he too was arrested,” said Dangar.

Khemchand, who works as a security guard at a private factory, said that his 21-year-old son Dushyant Kumar was not associated with the Samajwadi Party, but was arrested by the police that evening.

“My son works in a private factory and has nothing to do with the Samajwadi Party. I was informed about his arrest much later and have not been able to meet my son so far,” said Khemchand. His wife works as domestic help.

The police, meanwhile, said that they have evidence against all the 16 people arrested in connection with the protest.

“There were 300 protesters at the Commissionary Park on October 4 evening. We detained only 25, and the FIR was lodged against 18. Till now, 16 accused have been arrested, while two are absconding,” SSP (Meerut) Prabhakar Chaudhary told The Indian Express over the phone.

“We have minutely gone through the available video footage of the incident and collected forensic evidence before making the arrests. No one has been arrested without proper scrutiny of the available evidence. They were carrying petrol and other inflammable liquids. Two of our policemen have suffered burn injuries during the incident,” the SSP said.

The local chief of the Samajwadi Party’s unit, Rajpal Singh, said that he has been pursuing the administration for the release of the two students — Dushyant and Shekhar. “The burning of the effigy is the simplest form of protest in a democracy. The career of students who have been arrested in this connection stands ruined now. Most of those arrested belong to lower-income groups who cannot even afford the legal expenses involved to ensure a bail for their wards,” said Rajpal Singh.

Meanwhile, all the 16 arrested were produced before a court. Sources said that police failed to produce the CD showing the involvement of the accused. The court has fixed October 13 as the next date of hearing in the case.

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