Nearly 18 years after a man was killed by a group of villagers over a petty issue of guarding a field at night, a Birbhum court Tuesday awarded life term to 35 convicts.
First Additional Sessions judge Suvodip Mitra, who convicted all the 35 accused on Monday, read out the verdict punishing the murderers to life sentence Tuesday.
Of the total 37 accused of murdering Jainal Abedin (35) on September 5, 1996, two died during the course of trial.
Incidentally, all those named in the case were allegedly CPM supporters and had later switched over allegiance to the ruling Trinamool Congress in the state. One of the convicts, Sajman, is also an accused in the killing of Independent panchayat member Sagar Ghosh at Parui village in the district. The Ghosh killing case is pending in the Calcutta High Court.
Following a dispute over guarding the fields, a group of villagers had attacked Jainal Abedin with iron rods and other traditional weapons when he was returning from the paddy field to his house at Khiruli village under Parui police station. His elder brother Kader Mollah tried to save him but suffered injuries when someone threw a crude bomb at him.
Their younger sister, Delra Begum, who was on way to work at a health centre in Bolpur, rushed to Parui police station and sought help. The police reached the spot and rescued Jainal Abedin in a critical condition. They also arrested nine people.
The next day, Abedin died on way from Bolpur Hospital to Burdwan medical college following which another of his brothers, Sheikh Tahiruddin, lodged a police complaint against 37 people, including the nine who were already arrested. The remaining accused were apprehended.
Following a trial, that began in 1997, and which saw several judges being changed, additional sessions judge Mitra finally awarded life term to the the accused after holding them guilty under Sections 302, 307, 148 and 149 of the IPC.