Booked under non-bailable charges, 47 govt employees get interim bail day after protest over dearness allowance hike

The Bankshall city sessions court on Thursday granted interim bail to 47 state government employees, including 11 women, who were arrested a day before during a protest outside the West Bengal Legislative Assembly.

Despite police lodging cases against them under non-bailable sections, the court granted them bail after hearing arguments from both sides. The court observed that there was no need to keep them in police custody.

A large number of government employees on Thursday took to the streets, demanding a hike in dearness allowance (DA) on a par with the Central government staffers and clearing of their spending dues. The protesters clashed with the police, with several of them being arrested. They alleged that the police used force to take them into prison vans.

After remaining in lock-up overnight, the arrested government employees were produced in the Bankshall court. The public prosecutor sought their police custody for three days, citing injury to several police officers during the commotion.

The police have slapped several sections of the Indian Penal Code against those arrested, including non-bailable Sections 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty) and 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman). The public prosecutor claimed that an IPS officer and additional officer-in-charge of the Hare Street police station, Sachin Mondal, were injured, and that several police women were subjected to indecent gestures by the agitators.

Appearing on behalf of the government employees, advocate Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya contested that the protesters are not “known criminals”. He also said that the police initially intended to release those arrested last night but later changed their decision.

He further contested that it was unjust that the employees were not allowed to organise a protest. The court said, if needed, the employees need to cooperate with the police in their investigation. “If needed, they would cooperate with the police in the probe. The matter will be heard again on January 11 next year,” said Bhattacharya.

A section of state government employees staged a protest outside the Bankshall court when the arrested employees were being produced there. Another section of employees took out a protest rally outside the Kolkata Municipal Corporation office demanding their immediate release. Some also wore black bands.

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