A local court in Uttarakhand’s Udham Singh Nagar district has issued a non-bailable warrant (NBW) against 16 people, including state cabinet minister Arvind Pandey and three lawmakers of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The district and sessions court in Rudrapur issued the NBW against the 16 people on Thursday while hearing a case in which they are accused of blocking a highway during an agitation at Jaspur in 2012.
The court also ordered the district police authorities to form a special team to arrest the accused and produce them before it on October 23.
Rajesh Bhatt, additional superintendent of police (ASP), Kashipur, said, “We have received a copy of the order issued by the court. We will follow the order and form a special team to arrest the accused and produce them before the court within the stipulated time.”
The case in which the court issued the order pertains to June 2012, when the police had booked 24 people for blocking the highway.
The accused included the then Gadarpur member of the Uttarakhand legislative assembly (MLA) and the current sitting Cabinet minister Arvind Pandey, Kashipur MLA Harbhajan Singh Cheema, Rudrapur MLA Rajkumar Thukral, the sitting Jaspur MLA Aadesh Chauhan, ex-Member of Parliament (MP) Balraj Pasi.
Kashipur MLA Cheema said, “We didn’t block the road in 2012, but a group was staging a dharna demanding the arrest of an accused, who had eloped with a girl belonging to another religion.”
“We had gone there only to support the agitators and returned after a short while. I don’t know why the police booked us in this case,” he said.
However, Rudrapur MLA Thukral said that he would follow the court’s order. “Though the state government had withdrawn the case, the court did not relent. This led to the issuance of the NBW. I respect the court’s order.”
Minister Pandey was not available for his comment.
Pandey and the three MLAs were accused of blocking the road in the agitation to pressure the police to arrest the man, who had allegedly eloped with a woman belonging to another religion.
The agitation had allegedly led to a law and order problem.
Initially, seven of the accused were arrested, but later were released on bail.
The 17 others, including the minister and three MLAs, were never arrested.
However, one of the accused had died a few months ago.
Earlier, the court had issued an NBW in September 2019 as well.
The district police authorities had put up notices regarding the attachment of properties of the accused, including minister Pandey and the three legislators.
The lawmakers had moved the court in Rudrapur against the order and also filed a review petition.
However, the court dismissed the petition and issued a fresh NBW against the 16 accused on Thursday.