Lucknow: Decades after the incidents rocked the nation, in two separate incidents, the courts have acquitted the accused for lack of evidence.
In the first incident in Uttar Pradesh’s Meerut, nearly 36 years after the Maliana violence which claimed 63 lives, the court of additional district judge has acquitted 39 accused in the case for lack of evidence against them.
Additional district judge Lakhvinder Sood, after hearing pleas of both sides, ordered acquittal of all the 39 accused in absence of sufficient evidence against them.
Following the violence in 1987, one Yakoob Ali had got a case lodged against 93 people at the T.P. Nagar police station.
Later, in July 1988, police submitted a charge-sheet against 79 people while mentioning 61 eyewitnesses.
However, only 14 of the eyewitnesses turned up to record their statements.
The hearing of the case went on for more than 35 years. During this period, as many as 40 accused, along with the doctor who performed the post-mortem, died.
The remaining 39 accused appeared before the court on Saturday.
Senior lawyer Alauddin Siddiqui, representing the complainant, said that the survivors have lost hope of getting justice while pointing out that 14 family members of Ismail, an area resident, were killed in the riots.
“Family members of the victims are tired and they do not want to carry the legal battle forward,” said Siddique.
Recounting the violence, Salim Siddique, a resident of Maliana and eyewitness of the bloodshed, said that it was the 25th day of Ramzan when police and PAC personnel cordoned off an entire locality.
Thereafter, drunk rioters allegedly entered the houses and attacked families with sharp-edged weapons and wooden shafts, and set their houses on fire. He added that youth were dragged out from their houses and gathered in vacant plots where they were mercilessly beaten by PAC jawans.
Salim claims that six people from a family were burnt alive.
In the second incident in Uttar Pradesh’s Bhadohi, a court has acquitted 36 people, including 34 police personnel, in a 25-year-old case pertaining to the encounter of four people.
Additional sessions judge Shailoj Chandra acquitted the 36 people, giving them the benefit of doubt.
Additional district government counsel (ADGC), Vikas Narain Singh, said on October 1998, police had claimed that four men, including criminal Dhananjay Singh, who was carrying a cash reward of Rs 50,000 on information leading to his arrest, were shot dead while they had gone to a petrol pump in Saroi to commit dacoity.
Dhananjay Singh is now a leader of the Janata Dal (United) and also a former MP.
Late Samajwadi Party (SP) leaders Amar Singh and Phoolan Devi, former SP leader Ahmed Hasan and SP MLA from Bhadohi, Zahid Beg, held an agitation over the incident, alleging that the encounter was a fake one.
The government subsequently ordered a CB-CID probe, which revealed that the encounter was staged. The CB-CID registered a case against 36 people, including the then Circle Officer Akhilanand Mishra.
All of them were subsequently granted bail.
The ADGC said the CB-CID probe had revealed that during his term as the Circle Officer in Jaunpur, Mishra had developed a personal enmity with a student leader who was a lookalike of Dhananjay Singh. After he was transferred to Bhadohi, Mishra brought this man from Jaunpur and kept him in a flat.
Keeping his senior officials in the dark and attributing the operation to a tip-off, Mishra killed four people in broad daylight in Saroi, the government lawyer said.
Meanwhile, Dhananjay Singh surrendered before a court in February 1999, the ADGC said.
Both the incidents had made national headlines at that time and the government had a tough time explaining the police role.