Eighteen years after communal riots rocked central Delhi’s Sadar Bazar area, claiming a life and destroying property worth crores, a city court has acquitted 34 people charged with rioting.
Trouble had broken out on November 15, 1990, following inflammatory speeches by leaders of two communities leading a procession under the aegis of “All India Sikh Muslim Front” at Kasab Pura.
Blaming the prosecution for the acquittals, additional sessions judge S.S. Rathi said: “The investigating officials conducted poor quality of investigation into the case. The police made random arrests aimed at working out of this case having scant regard for actual culpability or involvement.”
The prosecution had examined 12 witnesses, three of whom turned hostile.
The court slammed the crime branch officers who probed the case and called the chargesheet as “nothing but a saga of police apathy towards human rights”.
Initially, police had arrested 48 people and booked them on charges of murder, unlawful assembly, rioting and mischief.
Two FIRs were lodged at Sadar Bazar police station.
A court had sentenced 16 people to life imprisonment in connection with the other FIR in September 2006.
The court noted that though it was alleged two of the accused were caught carrying swords and buckets of acid, no fingerprints or bloodstains were collected from the seized articles.
The court upheld the argument of defence counsel Varun Goswami that none of the accused had been identified by witnesses.
He alleged the police, in their hurry to complete the probe, had “made random arrests from the area”.
The additional sessions judge agreed with the counsel’s argument and added the police failed to present the forensic report to the court.