Attack on Jagan: Two arrested, police face flak for illegal detention of minors

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy suffered an injury above his eyebrow when he was hit by a stone hurled at him from the crowd at Daba Kottu in Ajith Singh Nagar last Saturday.
YS Jagan Mohan Reddy injured while campaiging in Vijayawada
YS Jagan Mohan Reddy injured while campaiging in Vijayawada
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The Vijayawada police on Wednesday, April 17, charged two persons in connection with the attack on Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy. The accused were identified as Vemula Satish Kumar (19) and Durga Rao (30). Satish has been remanded to judicial custody for 14 days.

In Satish’s judicial remand, the police said that they examined 12 witnesses including Vijayawada (East) YSRCP MLA aspirant Devineni Avinash, Mylavaram Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Ravi Kiran along with residents of Ajith Singh Nagar. The investigation led to Satish’s arrest.

While the officials are yet to determine the cause of the attack, they have mentioned in the remand report that this remains an ongoing investigation. Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Kanchi Srinivas Rao said that more arrests would be made in the coming days.

On April 13, CM Jagan suffered an injury above his eyebrow when he was hit by a stone hurled at him from the crowd at Daba Kottu Centre in Vijayawada’s Ajith Singh Nagar when he was campaigning for the upcoming state Assembly and Lok Sabha elections.

YSRCP MLA Velampalli Srinivasa Rao, who was standing next to Jagan Mohan Reddy, was also injured in the attack.

Based on YSRCP MLA Velampalli Srinivasa Rao’s statements, the police had registered the attack case on the night of April 13 under sections 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy), 307 (attempt to murder) and 107(2) (abetment by conspiracy) under the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Illegal detention of minors

While the attack on the chief minister was heavily politicised by both the ruling YSRCP and the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) led opposition, the police have remained tight-lipped about the case. The silence led to residents of Vaddera area in Ajith Singh Nagar limits protesting over the last few days as on Tuesday, April 16, four minors were detained in connection with the attack. All the suspected accused are between 14 and 17 years of age. While the detainees were returned to their families following a search warrant issued by the Vijayawada Civil Court on Thursday, April 18, the police have been criticised for unlawfully picking them up.

"Officials said they will counsel our children and send them back within a few hours," the aunt of one of the minors picked up, told TNM at the Civil Court in Vijayawada's Governorpeta area on April 18.

Adding to her account, the father of two brothers, aged 16 and 17 respectively, remarked that his sons were picked up at 5 am because their numbers were found in the contact list of one of the suspect’s phones. "We were told that they would send our sons back after the inquiry within two hours. We were not informed as to where they were being taken at all," he alleged.

He further said that when he approached the Ajith Singh Nagar police station, a Sub Inspector made a video call. "I got to see my sons and they both seemed safe. They told me they were currently in an AC room. But I wasn't allowed to speak to them over a call," he added.

Representing the family, Advocate A Saleem, well-known for representing Srinivasa Rao, the accused in a knife attack on YS Jagan Mohan Reddy in October 2018, told TNM that the minors were unharmed. “The Vijayawada Civil Court allowed for a search warrant to be issued on Thursday as the minors were lodged in a police station for questioning. As per the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2015, it is firstly illegal for minors to be placed in police custody which was made worse as family members were unaware of their whereabouts,” he added.

The police have remained silent on the case. Vijayawada Commissioner Kanti Rana Tata and four child welfare police officers working under Ajith Singh Nagar limits were unwilling to comment.

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