January 12, 2022 5:07:22 am
A LOCAL court in Moradabad on Tuesday acquitted Cabinet Minister for Panchayati Raj Bhupendra Singh Chaudhary, BJP MLA Ritesh Kumar Gupta and 72 others who were booked for allegedly attacking police personnel who tried to disperse protesters during an agitation against the Moradabad Police for “removing a loudspeaker” from a temple in 2014.
The acquittal was on the basis of benefit of doubt.
“There were a total of 82 accused in the case. Six of them died during the trial. The court separated the file of two accused. On Tuesday, Additional District and Session Judge Punit Kumar Gupta acquitted 74 persons, including Bhupendra Singh Chaudhary and Ritesh Gupta,” said government counsel, Moradabad, Mohan Lal. He added that all accused were out on bail.
The court examined 24 prosecution witnesses.
District Government Counsel, Moradabad, Nitin Gupta said a copy of the judgment was yet to be received. “After going through the judgment, a decision will be taken on whether to appeal,” said Gupta.
Ritesh Gupta is MLA from Moradabad Nagar.
The case dates back to June 2014. According to the prosecution, tension prevailed at Kanth area of Moradabad after the police allegedly removed a loudspeaker from a temple at Akbarpur Chendri village, which is Muslim-dominated. Police claimed to have removed the loudspeaker after receiving a complaint that it could “create disharmony” in the area. The police claimed that the loudspeaker was set up at the temple only during Shivratri festival and there was no tradition of loudspeaker being used on other days and thus it was removed. However, the BJP claimed that loudspeakers were used at the temple for the past several years.
A protest was organised to restore the loudspeaker. Police had to use mild force to disperse the crowd. Later, the BJP decided to hold a ‘mahapanchayat’ at a ground falling under Kanth police station are on July 4 the same year, to demand restoration of the loudspeaker. They were allegedly attempting to hold a mahapanchayat without obtaining permission from the district administration. People staged a protest and also entered into clashes with police personnel when they were stopped holding mahapanchayat. Heavy police force was deployed outside and at the ground.
Later, another group of people staged a protest, damaged railway track, forcibly stopped a train and also pelted stones at it. When a police team tried to stop them, they hurled stones at them following which several policemen and administrative officials were injured. Police used force to bring the situation under control.
The state government also moved an application in a local court of Moradabad to withdraw the case. The court did not issue any order in this regard and the case remained pending.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.