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'Communal card played to justify crack down at Ramlila maidan'

October 17, 2011 20:49 IST

Bharat Swabhiman Trust headed by yoga guru Ramdev on Monday accused the Delhi police in the Supreme Court of playing a communal card at the behest of its superiors as one of the grounds for the midnight crack down on him and his followers at the Ramlila ground.

Ramdev's counsel and senior advocate Ram Jethmalani said Delhi police revoked the permission for holding the dharna and satyagraha against black money on the intervening nights of June 4 and 5 at the venue saying the area was surrounded by criminals and communal elements which amounts to "slur" on the minority community.

"They (Delhi police) say the whole area is surrounded by criminal elements. It is a slur on the Muslim community," Jethmalani submitted before a bench comprising Justices B S Chauhan and Swatanter Kumar.

He questioned the midnight order passed by the Delhi police under section 144 of the Code of Criminal procedure (CrPC)to declare the assembly of people at the Ramlila ground as unlawful saying it was "not the exercise of lawful power of the public servant".

He alleged that Delhi police was acting at the behest of its superiors and concocted the story that the venue of yoga camp and protest was surrounded by criminals and communal elements and referred to the last two gatherings organised by Ramdev on January 30 and February 27 this year when prominent Muslim organisations participated.

"Police made out a case of communal sensitiveness. They expected some trouble from communal elements. It is unfair to the minority community. Police concocted the story," Jethmalani alleged.

Jethmalani said "there was credible circumstantial evidence that the action by police against Ramdev was at the behest of the superiors and the police converted the lawful assembly into unlawful assembly".

"They (Delhi police) compelled them (people at the venue) to leave at the dead of the night. They had no right to enter the property (Ramlila maidan) at the dead of the night.

Nothing in the CrPC gave them the right to enter in the property. "They had neither right to enter nor to disturb the people sleeping and ask them to wake up and get out of the place," he said while stressing that Ramlila ground being the property of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, it was the legal authority to pass an order for revoking the permission for holding any dharna or camp.

Jethmalani claimed all the conditions laid down by the police were complied by the organisers. The apex court that posted the matter for hearing on November 4, during the last hearings had expressed concern over the "police atrocities" and use of "brutal force" to disperse the "innocent" people gathered at the site of Ramdev's hunger strike against black money.

Ramdev had earlier alleged in the apex court that Home Minister P Chidambaram was behind the midnight crackdown on him and his followers during the protest at Ramlila Maidan.

Jethmalani said the police action on Ramdev and his followers was like the operations of Nazi era in Germany.

"Things like this happened in Nazi Germany. It is disgrace to Indian democracy. The entry of police into the ground amount to trespassing," he said and referred to the incident of lobbing tear gas shells and beating of people including women at the venue.

He also brought to the court's notice the death of Ramdev's disciple Rajbala due to police beating. "The act of police beating amounts to culpable homicide about a woman who died," he added.

"Was there any order passed declaring it (assembly of people) to be unlawful assembly?" the bench asked.

"The SDM (Sub-Judicial Magistrate) is required to pass an order," it said.

Jethmalani, who contended that police was not authorised to pass an order for revoking the permission granted to Ramdev for holding the camp, said the crackdown on the yoga guru and his disciple was the fall out of the political reasons as people in the government wanted him to bend to their terms.

The apex court had earlier questioned Delhi police for allegedly not registering an FIR on the complaint of the yoga guru's followers against the alleged atrocities committed by the authorities.

The apex court had on June 6 taken suo motu cognizance of the police action and asked the Centre and Delhi police to explain why it resorted to such an action in the middle of the night.

Delhi police, in its affidavit, denied the allegation that it had used force and claimed teargas shells were fired only after Ramdev's supporters turned violent and pelted stones at the police.

Justifying its action, police had said the authorities granted permission to Ramdev to use the ground only to hold a yoga camp and not for any other purpose.
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