Assault on BJP’s Abohar MLA: 20 lawyers offer free legal aid to accused

The lawyers who have offered legal support to the accused blame the incumbent government’s functioning in the incident and police inability to take pre-emptive measures.

As many as 20 lawyers from Muktsar and Bathinda districts, including a couple of local bar association presidents, and a retired deputy district attorney practising as an advocate, have come forward to extend free legal aid to the accused in BJP MLA Arun Narang assault case.

Even as the assault case wherein the BJP MLA’s clothes were torn and ink thrown at him is being widely criticised, the lawyers who have offered legal support to the accused blame the incumbent government’s functioning in the incident and police inability to take pre-emptive measures.

Rampura Phul Bar Association president advocate Ajitpal Singh Mander, who is among the lawyers who have offered free legal aid, said, “Across the country, there is a mob mentality which is going on. The administration should have ensured that there is no such mob. Police could not do its job to ensure that. Police deliberately did not take any measures. And even if a mob had gathered, police should have ensured that it was dispersed. It is a failure of state machinery. They should have been pro-active when there was this environment of hatred with BJP leaders issuing provocative statements.”

Mander added, “In the FIR, there is a mention of Section 307 (attempt to murder) of Indian Penal Code. This section is applied wrongly. At the most, a case under Section 355 (assault or criminal force with intent to dishonour person, otherwise than on grave provocation) could be made out where clothes were torn off and ink was thrown. It is not attempt to murder. It was manhandling someone for insulting that person.”

Mander, who is a member of around 200-strong Kisan Lawyer’s Forum that is fighting legal cases for the accused in January 26 Red Fort violence case, said “intriguingly, the complainant in the case was a Superintendent of Police”. Mander added, “FIR seems to be aimed at covering police inability and pleasing political bigwigs.”

Advocate Fateh Singh Sandhu, who retired as deputy district attorney in 2006, said, “Yes, I have offered free legal aid. At present, it is not clear who has done it and why it has been done. I don’t know the facts. What I know at this stage is that it was known that there is going to be a press conference [by Narang] and there was a large police presence with ranking police officials. And the police officials, among other things, were armed with batons. And despite that such a thing happened.”

Iqbal Singh Buttar, former president of Muktsar Bar Association who is among those who have offered free legal aid to the accused, said, “Those who have been arrested in the case have been falsely implicated. The three persons from Bodiwala village who have been arrested were earlier picked by police in a local farm agitation. Farmers have not indulged in any violence. Some miscreants might be involved in this.”

Gidderbaha Bar Association president Kuljinder Singh Sandhu, who is also among the panel offering free legal aid, said, “No doubt, it was an unfortunate incident. But the three persons from Bodiwala village who have been arrested were not part of this agitation. They were at their village when the incident happened. That is why I have offered free legal aid. Another accused who is alleged to have torn off the clothes of MLA is Avtar Singh who is an ex-serviceman. He denies having done that and there is no proof.”

Sandhu added, “It needs to be looked into why Abohar MLA Narang went ahead with holding a press conference at Malout despite farmers’ protest and police advisory not to hold any such event.”

Meanwhile, addressing a gathering on Tuesday, MLA Narang said police did not use any force to protect him. Thanking people of Abohar and his family, Narang said it was due to their good wishes that “I am standing alive in front of you”. “They tried to kill me mentally, to finish me sentimentally. Seeing your support, I am fully sure that Arun Narang cannot be finished like this. I will neither end mentally nor physically. I will go to every place to tell the functioning of the police and this government,” he said.

FIR says BJP leaders were advised to shift the venue

As per the FIR registered on the complaint of Muktsar SP Gurmail Singh who stated that when 250-300 unknown protesters and BKU Alamwala block president Lakhanpal Sharma alias Lakha Sharma led by Nirmal Singh Jasseana sat in front of BJP office at Malout raising slogans, he (SP) told Muktsar BJP president Gora Phutela and Malout incharge of BJP Sita Ram and other BJP leaders to shift the programme to any other venue keeping in view the security concerns.

But, the FIR reads, Narang along with Phutela and other workers came to the BJP office at Malout in “personal Scorpio vehicle” shortly. Narang, when contacted over the phone, declined to comment. — ENS

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