Law

Gujarat HC Grants Bail to 15 Migrants Held During Rajkot Protest in May

These labourers were part of a large group of migrants who clashed with the Rajkot police on May 17 demanding access to trains to travel to their native states during the lockdown.

Ahmedabad: On Tuesday, the Gujarat high court granted bail to 15 migrant labourers who were incarcerated on an attempt to murder and dacoity charges in Rajkot. The charges were filed after a clash between the migrant workers and the police for demanding transport arrangements to return to their native states during the lockdown.

These labourers were part of a large group of migrants who clashed with the Rajkot police on May 17 demanding access to trains to travel to their native states during the lockdown triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

Justice Gita Gopi granted bail to 15 migrant labourers who were jailed for their alleged involvement in the violent clash where some policemen and a journalist were injured.

They were granted bail on a personal bond of Rs 1,000 each and on the conditions that they will cooperate with the investigating officer and not change their residences without prior permission of the concerned local court.

Angry over lack of proper communication from the district authorities over travel arrangements, the migrant had blocked a highway and had pelted stones on motorists and police personnel. Several migrant workers were jailed.

In their submission, advocates for the accused, Anand Yagnik and Pratikkumar Rupala, said that while the migrants were desperate to reach the Rajkot railway station from Shapar Veraval to catch special Shramik trains, local police and the administration were making no arrangement to ferry them.

The advocates added that gradually, these labourers became restless which lead them to resort to violence.

The workers were completely dependent on the police and the revenue authorities, who were “absolutely indifferent and lethargic” in arranging buses to take them to the Rajkot railway station, they said.

When they resorted to violence, the workers were arrested and booked under sections 307 [attempt to murder] and 395 [dacoity] of the Indian Penal Code even though they had no intention to kill any police personnel, the lawyers argued.

They added that despite getting badly injured in the clash, the workers did not file any complaint.

The government opposed the bail because the police personnel were badly injured during the incident and the video camera of a journalist was taken away by the migrant workers.

Additionally, several public properties, police as well as private vehicles were damaged by the workers, the government told the court.