The judicial custody of four alleged Popular Front of India (PFI) activists, booked for sedition and other charges after their arrest while going to the Hathras rape-murder victim's village in October last year, has been extended for 90 days, a senior government counsel said on Monday. Deputy SP of Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force, Gautam Buddha Nagar, Rakesh Paliwal on Monday sought extension of the judicial custody of Atiq-ur Rehman, Masood, Alam and journalist Siddiq Kappan, he said.
Paliwal submitted to the court that since most of the offices of the PFI and other allied organisations are based in Kerala and during the investigation there some more information has surfaced, the STF needs the accused to be in judicial custody for verification of the information. "Additional district and sessions Judge (first) Anil Kumar Pandey has allowed the extension of judicial custody remand by another 90 days," District Government Counsel Shiv Ram Singh said.
Defence counsel Madhuban Datt Chaturvedi said he would challenge the decision in the High Court. He had opposed the extension contending that it was mandatory to release the accused after 90 days.
According to the FIR, charges under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the IT Act were also filed against the four men, who were accused by the state police of having links with the Popular Front of India (PFI).
The UP government had accused PFI members of instigating violence during the anti-CAA protests last year. The four men were arrested from a toll plaza in Mathura as they were heading to Hathras district to visit the victim's native village.
The Hathras incident that witnessed nationwide outrage involved a 19-year-old Dalit woman who was allegedly raped at a village in the district by four men on September 14 last year. She later died in a Delhi hospital on September 29.
She was then cremated in her native village with her family alleging the local police forced them to conduct the last rites in the dead of the night.