Bengaluru riots case: Accused’s family says 17-yr-old being tried as an adult

The family has filed a petition in the Karnataka High Court alleging the police is violating the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act.
DJ Halli Police Station, Bengaluru
DJ Halli Police Station, Bengaluru
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A petition filed in the Karnataka High Court has sought relief for a man arrested in connection with the riots in Bengaluru on August 11, alleging that investigating agencies arrested him and jailed him at the central prison in Bengaluru even though documents showed that his age is 17. The petition pointed out that those under the age of 18 should be under the charge of a juvenile police unit and should not be in a police lockup or in jail. 

"The detenu child continues to be illegally detained in the Central Jail Prappana Agrahara,  Bangalore amidst convicts and criminals which will adversely reflect on his mental and physical health, in violation of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act 2015 and Rules, 2016 and Article 21 of the Indian Constitution," reads the petition filed in the High Court.

The mother of the accused person approached the police soon after the arrest was made on August 12. Basawa Kunale, the lawyer representing the accused in the case, stated that investigating officials were informed that the arrested person is 17 years old and documents were produced to support the claim.

"The mother told the DJ Halli police that he was 17 and she also presented the documents related to the accused person to the National Investigation Agency (NIA). Still, no action was taken. Then she approached lawyers highlighting that her son is 17 years old and has been lodged in the central prison," the lawyer told TNM. Her son has been in judicial custody for the past 3 months.

The lawyer pointed out 10 juveniles accused of involvement in the riots were granted bail in October 2020. They were lodged in the observation home for juveniles. The Karnataka High Court has asked the police to respond to the petitioner's charges by November 18.

The NIA took over the investigation in the case in September 2020. The counsel appearing for the NIA stated that the arrested person is above 18 and the court has given ten days time for the agency to furnish documents verifying his age before November 18.

Violent mob attacks were reported in DJ Halli and KG Halli in eastern Bengaluru on the night of August 11. The mob attacks occurred after a mob of local residents gathered in protest against a Facebook post that was termed derogatory to Muslims. The post was uploaded by  Naveen P, nephew of Pulakeshinagar Congress MLA R Akhanda Srinivas Murthy. The mob was angered after the police took time to take action over the complaint made against Naveen's post and launched violent attacks on two police stations - in DJ Halli and KG Halli - and the MLA's residence in Kaval Byrasandra.

The attacks began at 9.30 pm on August 11 and ended in the early hours of August 12 after police opened fire against the mob, leading to the deaths of three people. Muzzammil Pasha, an SDPI leader from Bengaluru, had approached the DJ Halli police station with a complaint against Naveen at 7.45 pm on August 11. 

He is now among hundreds of people arrested in connection with the violence while many have been charged under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). Former Bengaluru mayor Sampath Raj has also been named as an accused person in the chargesheet in the case framed by the Central Crime Branch (CCB). 

A fact-finding committee appointed by the Karnataka government found that the attack was communally charged while another fact-finding committee by civil society organisations in Bengaluru stated that the there is a lack of substantial evidence to call the incident communal, and stated that the police failed to act expeditiously when they were approached with a complaint. 

The CCB is focusing its investigation on the attack on the residence of MLA R Akhand Srinivasa Murthy while the Bengaluru police's east division is investigating 72 FIRs registered at the DJ Halli and KG Halli police station. 421 accused persons, including many residents of DJ Halli and KG Halli, were arrested in the days after the violence. Two main FIRs registered in the case (#195 and #229) invoked the UAPA Act against 163 accused persons. 

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