AHMEDABAD: A city sessions court acquitted three people who were accused of rioting and arson during the post-Godhra riots in the Walled City after police officers told the court that they were not sure about the involvement of the accused, but had filed the complaint on the directions issued by their superior officer.
Three people — Sabirhussain Shaikh, Hamidullahkhan Pathan, and Munavvarhussain Shaikh — were charged with unlawful assembly, rioting, and arson, apart from charges under the Explosive Substances Act, by the Shahpur police for their alleged participation in an incident of violence on April 22, 2002, in Khanpur.
Police had to open fire and lob tear gas shells to quell the rioting. After the violence, these three were arrested, but were released on bail a few days later.
When the trial took place two decades later, there were only two witnesses examined and both of them were policemen. They testified that the rioting had taken place, but their depositions did not reveal anybody’s name, nor identify anyone involved in the incident.
One of the policemen, Virbhadrasinh Jhala, in his cross-examination, stated, “Nobody’s name from the mob was known and the complaint was filed on the instruction of our senior officer. ” Both witnesses also told the court that the test identification parade of the accused people was not carried out before them.
After hearing the case, additional sessions judge, Priyanka Agarwal, observed that the witness testimonies revealed that there was an incident of rioting, but there is no evidence to establish that the accused were present in the mob and had committed the offence. The accused were not arrested from the scene of the offence. Their names were revealed during the investigation and, that too, from hearsay. It also appears that their arrest is suspect, the judge said, while acquitting all the three accused in the case.

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