A local court on Saturday acquitted all 51 accused, including a BJP MLA, due to lack of evidence against them in connection with the 2002 Radhanpur town riot case in which two persons were killed.
Additional Sessions Judge Girish M Damodar said in its order that it was acquitting all the accused, including 25 persons from Muslim community besides MLA Shankar Chaudhary, for want of evidence.
Chaudhary is currently MLA from Vav seat in Banaskantha district.
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The court also observed the duo were killed in police firing and not in private firing as claimed by prosecution. “Considering the evidence in this case it is held that it was police and not private firing that killed the two,” the court said.
Gulam Nabi Shaikh and Gulam Jilani Shaikh were killed in firing by unknown persons on March 1, 2002 during post-Godhra communal riots.
According to prosecution, the duo were killed when a mob attacked localities dominated by minority community in Mandai chowk area of Radhanpur town, which resulted in a clash between two groups.
“The rioting mob looted shops and destroyed properties worth Rs 1.50 crore,” police said.
It was prosecution’s case that police resorted to lathicharge and firing of tear gas shells to control the situation, when gunshots were fired.
The MLA was arrested, along with eight others, in 2005. All the accused in the case were booked under various sections of IPC for murder, rioting and damaging public property. At least three of the arrested held important posts in BJP units of Radhanpur taluka.