Nine persons accused of burning houses and shops belonging to Muslims following a rumour about cow slaughter in Madhya Pradesh’s Khirkiya tehsil in 2013 have been acquitted by a trial court in Harda district. The acquittals in one of the 12 cases of rioting in the Chhipabad Police Station area has come days before the hearing in the Supreme Court of a petition alleging that the police did not properly investigate the riots.
Social activist Anurag Modi had moved the apex court, alleging that former BJP minister Kamal Patel and his son Sudip had instigated the riots with an eye on the Assembly elections. He had moved the SC after the Madhya Pradesh High Court rejected his petition. Investigating Officers have been asked to appear in the SC on July 17. Around 50 Muslims lost their homes and shops on September 9, 2013, in Kheda and Pahatgaon villages as rioters took to the streets accusing Muslims of slaughtering a cow. The autopsy report said the animal died of consuming polythene bags.
Last week, Special Judge Vivek Agarwal acquitted nine of the 12 accused, observing that most prosecution witnesses were not present because they had fled. It was not established from the deposition of witnesses that the accused committed the crime, he said. “A mob of 400 to 500 people shouting ‘Gai katne walonke haath kat do (chop the hands of cow slaughters)’ and ‘Jai Shri Ram’ entered our house and shoved a rod into the diesel tank of the tractor. They used the diesel to set vehicles and the house on fire,’’ complainant Sayeed Khan had told the police, who later booked Surendra alias Tiger Gopal Singh, self-proclaimed chief of Gauraksha Commando Force, and 11 others under charges of rioting, trespass and arson.
When he was examined in court, Sayeed said he did not know the accused and would not be able to identify who set the house on fire. Defence lawyer Prakash Tank, representing the accused, said that neither the police nor the prosecution was serious about the trial.