Six employees of the Kameshwar Singh Darbhanga Sanskrit University (KSDSU), who faced for 14 years the stigma of having stolen rare manuscripts from the university archives, were acquitted of charges by a local court on Tuesday.
The testimonies of witnesses and various documents produced by the prosecution have failed to fulfil the ingredients as required in proving the case against the accused, the court observed, while passing the order.
Of the six KSDSU staff, who had been accused of their involvement in manuscripts theft, two died in course of trial, one superannuated, while another went on to become the ‘acting vice chancellor’ of the same university!
However, they had to wait for 14 long years for a judgment that held them not guilty of the crime with which they had been charged.-among them for stealing a famed original of the ‘Shrimad Bhagwat’ in the handwriting of Mithila bard Vidyapati, ‘Grahanmala’ penned by Acharya Hemangad Thakur, ‘Utkal Mahatmya’ written by Mahamahopadhyay Mahesh Thakur, an ancestor of the late Maharaja of Darbhanga, an original copy of ‘Geet Govind’ written by poet Jayadeva,’Harivansh Puran’, ‘Sachitra Valmiki Ramayan’ and ‘Tatwa Chintamani’.
The judgment was delivered by Darbhanga civil court additional chief judicial magistrate (ACJM-V) Ashutosh Khetan in the case lodged with LN Mithila University (LNMU) police station in 2003 under Sections 461, 379, 201, 201 120 (B) of Indian Penal Code (IPC) and section 25 of Antiquity and Art Treasurer Act, 1972 for manuscripts stolen on the intervening night of November 28-29, 2003 on orders of then VC Kishor Kunal (ex-IPS).
On the basis of written application, an FIR was lodged against unknown persons and after police investigation a charge sheet was submitted against the accused persons on January 30, 2004.
Umashankar Jha, who retired from KSDSU two years ago, is among the four persons absolved of the charge, though completely shattered.
“I spent 15-months in jail and had to live with the stigma and financial problems”, he said, adding, “We had trouble arranging for the education and marriage of our children”. A former library staff, Jha was though confident that one day he would be proved clean.
Prof Vidyadhar Mishra, who was also facing trial in the case, went on to become the acting VC of KSDSU for a brief period this year. Likewise, two others, who were also acquitted, included Sonelal Paswan and Rajendra Thakur. Earlier, trial against two other persons, Pawan Kumar Choudhary and Bhuwan Kumar Choudhary, was dropped due to their death.