Four minors, two adults allegedly ‘apprehended’ in YS Jagan stone-pelting case; a family approaches court

Advocate Saleem said police are acting against the due process of law as they arrested minors without informing their parents.

ByBhaskar Basava

Published Apr 18, 2024 | 5:17 PMUpdatedApr 20, 2024 | 11:46 AM

Family members of Vemula Durga Rao at the Vijayawada Civil court. (South First)

The Vijayawada  Police allegedly apprehended six people, including a TDP worker, on 16 April for allegedly pelting stones at Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy on 13 April.

However, one of the families has approached a court in Vijayawada, claiming they are unaware of the whereabouts of their wards as the police were allegedly hiding them.

They also claimed that the police did not follow set procedures for arresting them. The “apprehended” persons include four teenagers and two adults.

The family of one of them, Vemula Durga Rao, filed a search warrant with the 1st Additional Junior Civil Judge in Vijayawada on 18 April, alleging that his whereabouts were being kept secret along with that of the minors.

Andhra Pradesh High Court advocate Abdus Saleem, representing the families in the Vijayawada civil judge court, complained about violating the arrest procedure.

Speaking to South First, Saleem said that it has been 48 hours since the apprehension; the police are acting against the due process of law and have apprehended all of them without informing their parents and denied access to a lawyer or health bulletin.

Advocate Saleem also represents the accused, Janepalli Srinivasa Rao, in the Kodi-Kathi case, involving the infamous attack on YS Jagan at Visakhapatnam Airport in the run-up to the 2019 elections.

Meanwhile, the families of the minors are anxious about their children’s release. The four minors are Aakash, Durga Rao, Chinna, and Santosh. One of the two adults is Vemula Durga Rao, aged 31 years, who serves as the Vice President of TDP BC Cell. As per the residents and the advocate, the other adult is Satish, who turned 19 on 14 April, just the day after CM YS Jagan was attacked.

All those apprehended were from the same colony of Ajith Singh Nagar, Vijayawada, and were from the BC community. Interactions with the residents revealed that all of them, including minors, engage in daily wage work.

Read: Attack strengthened my resolve, says Jagan

The search warrant

The family of Vemula Durga Rao, speaking to South First at the Vijayawada civil judge court, said Rao was an auto driver and had never been involved in such incidents before.

Vemula Saidhamma, a family member, stated that he was innocent. The police in plain clothes picked him up while he was having tea at a shop near his house in the evening on 16 April.

The family members of Vemula, who were also present at the YS Jagan event, stated that they were approached by the local YSRCP leader of Ajith Singh Nagar, Gunja Konda, Vemula Krishna, who offered them ₹200 for women and ₹300 for men, along with liquor, to attend the YS Jagan campaign on 13 April. They claimed that around 300 people from this area attended the meeting, and Vemula had nothing to do with any attacks.

Since 16 April, the family claims they have been trying to contact their kin to check his whereabouts. Vemula’s brother Baji stated that it was only yesterday, after much protest, that the office of the Assistant Commissioner of Police informed them that he was in police custody, but they had been denied access.

Therefore, they have filed a search warrant petition in court. According to Advocate Saleem, the Vijayawada civil court Judge C Ramana Reddy allowed the warrant and ordered the search by an advocate commissioner, and they are awaiting the order copy.

“We apprehend that the police are using Third Degree methods against Vemula and other persons to extract confession statements by illegally detaining and threatening them,” the Baji stated.

Baji further claims that although Vemula is associated with TDP, he is an auto-driver. He suspects that the ruling YSRCP might have falsely implicated his brother in this case due to political rivalry.

Read: Elephants, cashews, and a bridge — Kurupam tribal constituency in Andhra cries for help

The family hopes for relief 

Darengula Babu, the father of two children, Akash and Santosh, said both, below 18, were taken away by the police on 16 April. He said the police came for one child and took both into custody. The police promised to return them in two hours, but it has been two days since then.

“Our kids went to Guntur for a Christian church gathering and returned late on 13 April. Satish’s birthday is on 14 April, and they celebrated it here. However, the attack occurred around one kilometre away at Vivekananda School Centre and much before their arrival.

“I don’t know where my sons are currently. We are worried about his condition now. When we contacted the police, a constable called me and showed me my sons in a video call. He said, ‘Don’t worry; your sons are sitting in AC room’.”

Darengula Babu hopes his two sons will be released soon, with all charges cleared.

Upon receiving information about the arrests, South First contacted the Singh Nagar Police Station on 16 April, but the police denied having any information about such arrests.

On April 18, South First attempted to talk to Vijayawada Commissioner Kanthi Rana Tata, but he was “unavailable”.

Advocate Abdus Saleem has a list of CrPC sections the police violated while arresting the six persons.

They are Section 41A: The police did not issue a notice for appearance before a police officer; Section 50: The arrested person was not informed of the grounds of arrest and their right to bail; Section 55: The officer in charge failed to notify the person to be arrested of the substance of the arrest order and did not show them the order upon request;  Section 41B: The arrested person was not informed of their right to have a relative or friend notified of their arrest.

Advocate Saleem claims the Government did not display the names and addresses of the arrested persons and the arresting officers on notice boards. The arrested persons were denied the right to meet an advocate of their choice during interrogation. The police also detained the arrested persons for more than 24 hours without a special order from a Magistrate.