Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria has initiated an inquiry into how the case against the vendors was registered; senior official says police action was ‘very hasty’ and that the case would be dismissed in a few days
In a victory for common sense, the case against the two newspaper vendors, which had the legal fraternity, former police officers and the common man up in arms, is set to be dismissed.
In successive reports, mid-day had highlighted how the vendors Sharif Sheikh (62) and Salman Sheikh (20) had been booked and arrested by the J J Marg police on Wednesday for selling the January 17 issue of the Urdu daily Avadhnama, which had reprinted a controversial Charlie Hebdo cartoon of Prophet Mohammed.
The vendors Sharif Sheikh (left) and Salman Sheikh. Pic/Datta Kumbhar
A judge had slammed the police on Thursday and granted bail to the vendors, who had been charged under Section 295(A) (Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) of the IPC.
Yesterday, Mumbai Commissioner of Police Rakesh Maria initiated a high-level inquiry into the matter and a highly-placed source told mid-day that the two vendors would be discharged from the case in a few days, after the inquiry gets over. The officer admitted that the JJ Marg police’s action had been hasty and that the case did not stand.
mid-day’s reports yesterday and on Thursday (below)
Mumbai police spokesperson, DCP Dhananjay Kulkarni, said, “CP Maria has initiated an inquiry into the matter of how the case was taken against the two vendors. Additional Commissioner of Police Chhagan Wakde will conduct the inquiry and give a report soon.”
A very senior officer from the Mumbai police confirmed that the case would be dismissed and the two vendors would be discharged from it. “Under Section 169 of the CrPC, the case will be dismissed and both vendors will be discharged from it.
The action taken by the JJ Marg police was very hasty. The case does not stand anywhere and will be dismissed in a few days.” The vendors, meanwhile, who were back at work yesterday, said their arrest and the night that they had to spend in the police lockup were still haunting them.
Speaking to mid-day, Sharif Sheikh said, “I had to get back to work because I am poor and this is the only source of income for me. I have been selling newspapers my entire life and today is the first time that I’m feeling afraid doing it.”
Salman said, “I do odd jobs with my brother in the morning and sell newspapers at my stall in the evening. I am back at work, but the night inside the police lockup and the court procedure the next day still haunt me. I could not sleep the whole night even after being granted bail.
Everything is normal, but I don’t know why I am still very afraid. I had not seen the inside of a police station in my whole life. The traumatic 24 hours from the cops picking me up, the night inside the lockup and being kept handcuffed inside the police van and in court will stay with me for the rest of my life.”