THE INDORE bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court has acquitted five RSS activists who were sentenced to life imprisonment for killing two Muslims on December 30, 2007. The attack, an alleged retaliation, came a day after the murder of former RSS pracharak Sunil Joshi.
Rasheed Shah, 65, was hacked to death and his son Jaleel, 27, was attacked with acid in Sutarkheda village in Dewas district, about 40 km from Indore. Jaleel died of burns on January 11 at an Indore hospital, where two of his brothers, severely injured in the same attack, were also treated.
While several people were accused in the case, no one else was arrested besides the five, who have now been acquitted. Wanted for his role in a twin-murder, Joshi was hiding in Chuna Khadan locality of Dewas when he was killed on the evening of December 29, 2007. Hindutva organisations had blamed his murder on “anti-national elements like SIMI’’ and called for a bandh on December 30 — the day Rasheed’s family was attacked.
Joshi’s murder had remained unsolved before sleuths said he was killed by his own men. The NIA and state police arrested two different sets of accused — Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur’s name figured in both lists of accused. After a long trial, the Dewas sessions court acquitted all the accused.
On July 31, 2009, while Joshi’s murder was still a mystery, the sessions court in Dewas sentenced Bhanwar Singh, 25; Mahipal Singh, 21; Omprakash, 23; Jaswant Singh, 24; and Rajpal Singh, 19, to life imprisonment relying on the dying declaration of Jaleel, who knew the accused because they lived in nearby villages.
Arguing that they had been implicated because of their RSS identity, the five challenged the verdict in the Indore bench of High Court. “We disproved the dying declaration and proved the alibi that the accused had gone to Pachmarhi (a hill station in Madhya Pradesh), and were not in Sutarkheda at the time of the incident,’’ defence lawyer Pradip Gupta told The Sunday Express.
Jaleel’s elder brother Latif Shah said the family will challenge the order.