PUNE: A court here today acquitted 68 members of Maratha outfit Sambhaji Brigade in a 2004 case, in which they were accused of ransacking the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (BORI).
Sessions Judge S J Gharat passed the order, acquitting the 68 members of the Sambhaji Brigade of the charges.
Of the 72 accused in the case, four had passed away during the trial.
On January 5, 2004, a mob had barged into the acclaimed Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (BORI), ransacked the cupboards, broken the computers and destroyed thousands of rare manuscripts and other priceless articles to protest certain "disparaging" remarks made by a foreign author about Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji.
Seventy-two members of the Sambhaji Brigade were booked and arrested in this connection and charged under various sections of the IPC, including those dealing with dacoity and rioting.
The mob was protesting the "objectionable" remarks of author James Laine against Chhatrapati Shivaji in his book, 'Shivaji: Hindu King in Islamic India'.
In the foreword of the book, Laine had mentioned the names of some of the researchers from BORI, who helped him while he was working on it.
Defence lawyer Milind Pawar said the prosecution examined nine witnesses in the case, but failed to establish the role of the 72 accused.
"Of the 72, four died during the trial," he added.
The mob had damaged the Mahabharata department, manuscript department, publication department and post- graduate teaching and research wing of the institute, founded on July 6, 1917 to commemorate the work of Ramkrishna Gopal Bhandarkar.
It also damaged the computers, photocopy machines, furniture, reference index cards and several priceless articles.
Former Maharashtra president of the Sambhaji Brigade Anant Chonde said they had faith in the judiciary and Constitution.
"After a long wait of 13 years, we have got justice," said an elated Chonde.
The attack had led to a turmoil with political parties trying to give it a casteist angle and strong reactions emanating from various quarters.