Ten students are among the 93 AAP members still imprisoned in Gujarat for protesting
They are all charged under 22 provisions of the Indian Penal Code, including criminal conspiracy, as well as the Epidemic Diseases Act and the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act.
According to AAP leaders and court documents, at least ten college students are among the 93 AAP members who have been detained at the Sabarmati Central Prison for the past four days for protesting outside the BJP headquarters in Ahmedabad over the alleged leak of a question paper for an exam to hire clerical staff by the Gujarat government.
They are all charged under 22 provisions of the Indian Penal Code, including criminal conspiracy, as well as the Epidemic Diseases Act and the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act. The 65 male members of the gang are also accused of sexual harassment.
The 28 women accused were granted conditional bail on Friday and are expected to be released soon, according to the party's legal counsel.
Six of those detained, according to court documents, are between the ages of 18 and 19. Four of the 10 students arrested are members of the Chhatra Yuva Sangharsh Samiti (CYSS), the party's student wing, while six are members of the party's youth wing, according to AAP leaders.
Yatin Jiyani (19), an engineering student at Institute of Infrastructure Technology Research and Management, Anmol Vaghasiya (18), a computer applications student at Lokmanya Group of Colleges, and Anuj Shah (19), a BBA student at New LJ Group of Colleges, were among the CYSS members detained.
The youth wing members include Mahendrasinh Zala (19), Haresh Solanki (19) and Mahir Shaikh (19).
Yatin's father Arvind Jiyani said: "We heard the news of my son's arrest on TV. He had gone along with other party workers to the protest site. We were aware of his political affiliation." Anmol's parents live in Junagadh and could not be reached while Anuj's parents declined comment.
Among those arrested is CYSS state president Dharmik Mathukiya (21). Abhishek Solanki (22), vice president of the CYSS state unit, said: "Why did the police take such stringent action against 18-year-olds, booking them under 22 sections? We have been trying to make a better future for ourselves. We don't wish to become MLAs or MPs, all we want is that such leaks shouldn't happen and our future is not destroyed."
The protesters face charges under IPC sections 120b (criminal conspiracy), 354a (sexual harassment), 323 (causing hurt), and 353 (causing harm), according to the FIR (assault on public servant). These charges, according to defence attorneys, may result in sentences of up to seven years in prison.
"Today, we have secured bail for the 28 women on the condition that their passports will be seized and they cannot enter the territory within the Infocity police station area in Gandhinagar where the FIR is lodged. The bail hearing of the remaining 65 male accused will be heard Monday," said Pranav Thakkar, AAP's legal counsel.
The students were among roughly 500 AAP supporters who protested outside the BJP's Shree Kamalam office in Gandhinagar on Monday. They requested that Asit Vora, a BJP official and the chairman of the Gujarat Subordinate Service Selection Board (GSSSB), which administered the exam to hire head clerks, be removed.
The written exam took place on December 12th, with 88,000 candidates competing for 186 positions. The question paper was allegedly leaked and sold in advance for Rs 8-12 lakh, according to the AAP. While the administration ultimately cancelled the exam and postponed it for March 2022, the police detained 18 people suspected of being involved in the scheme.
However, during Monday's rally, AAP and BJP workers clashed, prompting the police to use a lathicharge to separate the crowd.
Following that, the Gandhinagar Police filed a FIR against AAP state president Gopal Italia, women's wing president Gauri Desai, youth wing president Nikhil Savani, senior officials Isudan Gadhvi and Hasmukh Patel, and 500 unknown persons, based on a complaint from a female BJP worker.
On Monday night, 93 AAP members were arrested and taken to the Sabarmati jail for judicial detention.
The FIR states: "…several workers of AAP, including Gopal Italia, Isudan Gadhvi, Mahesh Savani and others, holding CYSS banners in their hands, tried to break open the main gate of Kamalam office. Gadhvi was in a drunken state, his breath was foul. Despite several warnings by the police and BJP workers, the AAP workers forcibly entered the building premises by breaking the gates and then blocked the way for BJP workers and assaulted them with wooden sticks."
They were also accused of "assaulting police personnel and damaging their vehicles".
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a CYSS member, who was part of the protest, said: "We were protesting peacefully when BJP workers and police started charging towards us. Many of our workers rushed to the parked bus in which they had arrived. I ran from the venue. Later, police intercepted the bus and arrested all those inside." The AAP, however, has not filed any counter complaint in the incident.
Hil Gangani, a CYSS member and second-year political science student at LD Arts College, said some of the students detained in the protest are "close friends" of his.
"Our morale drops whenever such paper leaks happen. This time, Gopal bhai (Italia) called us and said this should be the last time such a leak happens in a government exam," he said.