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34 acquitted in Sadar Bazar riot case

Nineteen years after communal riots in Sadar Bazar here claimed eight lives,a city court has acquitted 34 persons accused of resorting to violence in the area,for want of evidence.

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi | January 28, 2009 12:27:49 am

Nineteen years after communal riots in Sadar Bazar here claimed eight lives,a city court has acquitted 34 persons accused of resorting to violence in the area,for want of evidence. The court has also pulled up the Delhi Police for its slack probe in the case.

Noting that three public witnesses had turned hostile during the course of the investigation,the court absolved the accused persons of the charges of rioting,murder and attempt to murder. “The quality of investigation carried out by the police is a tell-tale story of how a case can be spoilt. The entire chargesheet is nothing but a saga of police apathy towards human rights,” Additional Sessions Judge Surinder S Rathi said.

The ASJ also pulled up the police for making whimsical arrests during the probe. It observed that the police had simply picked up 28 people belonging to a particular community on November 15,the day the riots took place. A day later,the police again apprehended 19 people from another community “just to solve the matter”. “These arrests were made in a premeditated and designed manner,aimed only at working out the case with scant regard for actual culpability or involvement of either group of arrested persons,” Rathi said.

Referring to the police’s probe as a “remarkable example of the state’s failure to safeguard the fundamental rights of life and liberty of its citizens”,the court noted that during the investigation,the police had even failed to preserve properly the seized case properties,including allegedly seized acid bottles used in the riots.

The prosecution used 12 witnesses to prove its case. The accused were,however,absolved after none of the witnesses could identify the accused or refer to any specific offence by the accused in the case.

According to the prosecution,on November 14,1990,the accused had led a procession from near the Shish Ganj Gurudwara to the Idgah Maidan near Sadar Bazar,condemning the foiled attempt to barge into the disputed site at Ayodhya. Community leaders allegedly made “speeches of an inflammatory nature aimed at inciting communal passions and disturbing communal harmony”. The ensuing violence,the prosecution alleged,led to the deaths of five Muslims and three Hindus.

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