Tewatia gets bail, but will remain in jail

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Manveer Singh Tewatia, the main accused in the 2011 violent land acquisition agitation at Bhatta-Parsaul, was granted bail by Allahabad High Court on Friday.

The single judge bench of Justice S C Agarwal granted him bail after taking note that many of the co-accused in the case had been granted bail in June 2011, within a month after the violent protest that led to their arrest. Tewatia, who evaded arrest for many days and was finally caught on July 9, 2011 from Delhi, has been warned by the court against trying to threaten or induce witnesses. The court asked him to cooperate with the authorities in the legal process.

In their argument, Tewatia's counsels told the court that he was only leading a peaceful protest that turned violent due to the use of force by the police. They said he has not been accused of using any firearm or weapon himself.

Tewatia, however, will have to wait for some more time to get out of Dasna jail in Ghaziabad where has been held since his arrest. Apart from being booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), police had invoked Gangster Act against him. Further, a total of over a dozen cases had been registered against him.

"We will now approach the court seeking a bail in connection with the Gangster Act imposed on him. Most of the other cases had arisen around the same incident with the police registering FIRs against him every time section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code was broken over a few days before the violence took place.

In some of the cases, he is already on bail, while in the others, the government has initiated the process of withdrawing the cases against him," said Rahul Chaudhary, counsel of Tewatia.

Tewatia was accused of having incited the farmers to resort to violence on May 7, 2011 that led to death of two policemen and two farmers. The farmers' agitation had taken political overtones with Congress MP Rahul Gandhi reaching the protest site and alleging that many farmers had gone missing.

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