Asansol stampede case: Was Jitendra Tiwari arrested or detained?
Confusion prevailed over whether Bengal police actually arrested former Asansol mayor and BJP leader Jitendra Tiwari from Noida or whether he was simply detained in a case pertaining to an incident of stampede deaths during a blanket distribution programme in Asansol.
Tiwari was reportedly not produced in any court in the Gautam Buddh Nagar district of UP and no transit remand was sought, as is the protocol in cases for moving an accused to a different state after arrest.
According to reports, Tiwari was taken directly to the airport from the point where he was picked up on the Yamuna Expressway, which led to speculations on whether he was merely detained by the police and not arrested.
Back home, no clarity was offered by the police in Asansol who chose to remain tight-lipped about the developments.
The police action on Tiwari reportedly took place in the wake of a complaint which was filed in connection to the stampede which resulted in three deaths, two women and a minor girl, on 14 December last year. The event was allegedly organized by the local unit of the BJP and the stampede took place shortly after the leader of the Opposition Suvendu Adhikari, who was the chief guest, left the spot.
Police started a case of culpable homicide not amounting to murder against 10 persons, which included Tiwari, his wife Chaitali, the leader of opposition in Asansol Municipal Corporation, and two other BJP councillors on the basis of the complaint lodged by the son of one of the victims.
Personnel from Durgapur-Asansol Police Commissionerate reportedly visited Tiwari’s flat to interrogate Chaitali but served notices for an appearance on finding the property locked.
On 22 December last year, the Calcutta High Court granted Chaitali interim protection against coercive action by police besides directing her to cooperate in the investigation. Following a counter-petition by the police, the Bench of Justice Rajashekhar Mantha ordered the state police to resume the probe. The subsequent application for anticipatory bail by the duo was rejected by a Division Bench of the court. Tiwari recently moved the Supreme Court with the same plea which was scheduled to be heard on Friday.
It remains to be seen that in the midst of those moves, the joint operation conducted by the intelligence department of Asansol-Durgapur Police Commissionerate and the Asansol North Police Station to pick up Tiwari from beyond the borders of Bengal is termed as an ‘arrest’ or ‘detention’.