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Court acquits 26 accused in 2002 post-Godhra riots, says ‘probe cannot be said to be proper’

These accused were facing charges of rioting, arson, damaging properties belonging to people from the Muslim community and vandalising a dargah in Paliyad village in Kalol taluka.

Written by Satish Jha | Ahmedabad |
Updated: February 3, 2017 7:21:11 pm

An additional district court in Kalol in Gujarat’s Gandhinagar district has acquitted 26 accused in a 2002 post-Godhra riots case for lack of enough evidence. These accused were facing charges of rioting, arson, damaging properties belonging to people from the Muslim community and vandalising a dargah in Paliyad village in Kalol taluka, a day after the Godhra train carnage in 2002. Property worth Rs 5 lakh was reported to have been damaged in the violence.

WATCH VIDEO | Gujarat Court Acquits 26 Accused In 2002 Post-Godhra Riots

The order, which was pronounced on January 31, mentions that owing to a compromise between the accused and the victim, enough evidence could not be produced before the court to establish any violence on February 28, 2002. The order also states that the “panchnama of the scene of offence is not proved.”

Those acquitted have been identified as Natwar K Patel, Mahesh V Prajapati, Manu A Prajapati, Babu T Prajapati, Vijay B Patel, Vinod S Patel, Ramesh D Mochi, Nitin R Patel, Ashok G Patel, Shailesh R Patel, among others. Most of the accused are from Paliyad village while three are residents of Ahmedabad.

According to the order of Additional Sessions Judge B D Patel, some of the witnesses including Shakilaben Ajmeri, Abbasmiyan Ajmeri, Najumiyan Saiyed, among others, turned hostile in the court and refused to identify the people in the mob of at least 500 people. The order mentions that these witnesses said in the court that “police wrote the name of the accused on their own and a compromise was struck in the presence of village leaders for communal harmony.”

Agreeing with the defence lawyer’s submission that police had cited several accused as witnesses, the order further says: “The investigation cannot be said to be proper, justifiable, which even the investigating officer had conceded…all the witnesses turned hostile and even independent witnesses didn’t support the prosecution complaint.”

The order states: “…investigating officer, several witnesses have passed away. Some witnesses have left Paliyad village. After considering all the evidence, it is proved that a compromise was made and because of that not enough evidence could be placed.”

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