The riots took place after the killing of Sant Rama Nand in Vienna city of Austria. Sant Rama Nand was the second-in-command in Dera Sach Khand Ballan, Jalandhar, the largest dera of the Ravidassia community
THE COURT of additional district and sessions judge Jalandhar dismissed a plea filed by the state government to withdraw cases from prosecution against all accused facing trial on attempt to murder, rioting and arson charges in connection with the riots in 2009 following the Vienna episode.
The six FIRs were registered in Jalandhar district on May 25, 2009. The riots took place after the killing of Sant Rama Nand in Vienna city of Austria. Sant Rama Nand was the second-in-command in Dera Sach Khand Ballan, Jalandhar, the largest dera of the Ravidassia community.
Months ahead of the 2022 Assembly elections, the government issued a notification recently to withdraw the prosecution against all accused, who belong to the Ravidassia community. But the counsel of a victim pleaded before court that there are anti-social elements in every community and such cases cannot be withdrawn because these were not in the interest of the public. The public prosecutor filed an application for withdrawal of the cases for prosecution by taking a plea that following the killing of Sant Rama Nand, his followers gathered and protested in Jalandhar, and if these cases end up in conviction of these accused, it might disturb public tranquility.
Advocate Darshan Singh Dyal, the counsel of victim Dr Baljit Singh Joahl of Johal Hospital in Ramamandi, said the application was moved by the prosecution under Section 321 of CrPC (enables the public prosecutor to withdraw from the prosecution of any person) following the notification issued by the deputy secretary of Hhme department of the government of Punjab in July, asking the district attorney of Jalandhar to withdraw prosecution in six criminal cases related to violence after the Vienna incident.
He said the withdrawal plea has been dismissed by additional district and sessions judge Manjinder Singh.
Among the accused were a sitting Jalandhar municipal corporation councillor, Mandeep Kumar Jassal, and 7 others.
Dyal asked how the government can issue such a notification “just to please some people of a community ahead of elections. How government can justify its move to withdraw such cases in the interest of the public when when in one such case at Phillaur (in Jalandhar district), a security man was killed by the mob as in the same notification, Punjab government decided to withdraw prosecution in the murder case too”.
“Public interest does not mean to vadalise private showrooms, torch private vehicles, burn trains, damage private hospitals etc,” argued advocate Dyal. He further said that it is not in public interest but in political interest only and withdrawal would “shake the faith in the judicial system”.
Quoting another case in court Monday, advocate Dyal said there is another precedent from Punjab and Haryana High Court in which a similar application was moved in Navjot Singh Sidhu’s case and the high court had said that the government is trying to save a star cricketer by misusing the provisions of Section 321 CrPC and the court was pleased to dismiss the application moved by prosecution.
Dyal said there were 75 criminal cases registered post Vienna under the charges of murder, looting, arson and destroying private and public property in various police stations, out of which 30 FIRs were sent to the court as untraced and trial never began, while 45 cases went to trial. “Court acquitted the accused in 19 cases due to lack of evidence on the part of police. Most of these cases were registered on the complaints of police officials who were also injured and their vehicles were also damaged by the protestors,” he added.
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