NEW DELHI: A Delhi court on Thursday sentenced four persons to life imprisonment for murdering former Railway Minister L N Mishra nearly 40 years ago.
The court held that the act was aimed at pressuring the Indira Gandhi Government to release cult group Ananda Marga’s jailed chief.
District Judge Vinod Goel held Santoshanand, Sudevanand Gopalji and advocate Ranjan Dwivedi guilty of murdering Mishra and two others. The court directed the Bihar government to pay `5 lakh each to the legal heirs of Mishra and two other victims who had died in a blast at Bihar’s Samastipur Railway station on January 2, 1975. The court also asked the state government to pay a compensation of `1.5 lakh each to the family members of the seven persons who had sustained grievous injuries and `50,000 each to the kin of 20 others who had sustained minor injuries in the incident.
In its 1,123-page judgment, the court said when Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar alias Anand Murti, who was accused in a murder case and later acquitted, could not secure his enlargement on bail, his followers committed the crime.
“They (followers) entertained the idea that by causing a big jolt in the establishment through acts of terror, the government would buckle under their pressure and release their guru,” the judge said. Ananda Margaclaims to be a global, spiritual and social service organisation. It was banned for two years after Mishra’s assassination. Others who died in the blasts were Surya Narayan Jha and Ram Kishore Prasad Singh Kishore. The case was first handled by the Bihar Police and after a few days it was handed over to the state CID branch. The case was later transferred to the CBI which on November 1, 1977, filed a chargesheet in a special court at Patna.
The case was shifted to Delhi on the directions of the Supreme Court on December 17, 1979, as the first case in the country to have been transferred outside the state for fear of destruction of evidence.
A total of 213 witnesses were examined in the case which included 161 from the prosecution’s side, 43 from accused’s side and nine were called for their testimony as court witnesses and a 6,000-page long evidence was recorded in the case.