Meerut court acquits 40 accused in 1987 Maliana riot case which left 72 Muslims dead
40 other accused in the case have died while the rest could not be traced; in the violence on May 23, 1987 in Maliana, 63 people were killed, while in Hashimpura, 42 people lost their lives.
MEERUT: Citing lack of evidence, a court here has acquitted 40 people accused of arson, murder and rioting in the 36-year-old Maliana communal clash case in which 72 Muslims were killed, according to Times of India.
On May 23, 1987, riots broke out in Maliana, following clashes in Hashimpura a day earlier, in the backdrop of the Babri Masjid-Ram Janambhoomi dispute. In Hashimpura, on May 22 that year, 42 Muslim men had lost their lives. These clashes took place in the aftermath of the communal violence in the city during Shab-e-Barat on April 14 that left 12 dead.
Yakub Ali, a local, filed a case against 93 people on May 24 that year, in connection with the Maliana incident.
Ali had alleged that the accused men committed arson and opened fire on people, Additional District Government Advocate (ADGC) Sachin Mohan told PTI.
Following the series of riots in Meerut in 1987, the administration, to bring the situation under control, had imposed a curfew, but tensions remained high and intermittent clashes kept taking places for nearly three months.
Additional District and Sessions Judge Lakhwinder Sood on Saturday acquitted the 40 accused after hearing both sides.
The court, after observing the testimony of the witnesses and the evidence on file, ordered the acquittal of 40 accused, giving them the benefit of doubt and citing a lack of evidence.
The ADGC also told PTI that 10 witnesses, including the plaintiff, had testified in the court, but the prosecution was not successful in proving the case against the accused on the basis of sufficient evidence.
Kin of victims to fight against verdict
The victim's family members have said they would appeal against the verdict in the high court.
Following the verdict, Mahtab (40), a family member of one of the victims of the Maliana violence, told reporters that his "father Ashraf was shot dead during the riots".
"I was very young at that time. He was killed for no reason," Mahtab said and added that "the decision of the court is not just and he will appeal in the high court soon after holding talks with other families (of victims)".
Afzal Saifi (45) said that he would appeal against the court's decision in the high court. He said on the day of the violence, his father Yasin was shot dead when he was returning home, and his body dumped near a sugar mill.
More than 800 dates were taken for hearing in the Maliana case.
There were 74 witnesses in the trial, out of which only 25 are left. Some witnesses have also moved out of town.
The case was filed against 93 people -- named and unnamed -- on May 24, 1987, and of them, 40 have died and the others could not be traced.
(With PTI inputs)