Seven years after they were arrested for protesting outside Panjab University (PU) in September 2016, a local court has acquitted 14 leaders of Students For Society (SFS) for want of evidence.
Those acquitted include Damanpreet Singh, his namesake, Ramanpreet Singh, Ravinder Singh, Harmandeep Singh, Raminder Wazidpur, Sahil Bhatla, Jagjeet Kaur, Harpreet Kaur, Varinder Singh, Anoop, Arishdeep Singh, Rajat Preet and Gurlal Singh.
They were booked under Sections 147 (rioting), 149 (unlawful assembly) , 341 (wrongful restraint) and 188 (disobedience to an order lawfully promulgated by a public servant) of the Indian Penal Code at the Sector 11 (West) police station.
As per the FIR, the 14 students were protesting on the Sector 14/15 dividing road, blocking traffic movement. When asked by police to vacate the road and move to the protest ground in Sector 25, they did not relent, following which they were arrested.
But during trial, police could not produce evidence to prove the allegations levied in the FIR. The prosecution could not prove the presence of the arrested students at the said spot. The defence had alleged that they were not arrested from the protest site, but instead identified from a video captured by police and later arrested.
On Friday, all were acquitted by the court of judicial magistrate first class Randeep Kumar. The detailed order is awaited.
This is the second acquittal involving SFS leaders in the past five years. Earlier in 2018, nine PU students were acquitted of charges of rioting, assault and outraging the modesty of a female police official. The case was registered on March 18, 2014
Eight of the acquitted students – Damanpreet Singh, Suchinder Pal Singh, Gurpreet Singh (from Barnala), Gurpreet Singh (from Moga), Arishdeep Singh, Sahil Bathla, Ramanpreet Singh and Dharminder Singh – belonged to SFS, while the ninth – Rawinder Singh – was from the Students’ Federation of India (SFI).