More than 18 years after they were booked for taking part in January 1993 communal riots, a special court on Monday acquitted 21 persons, including 11 Shiv Sena activists, for want of cogent evidence.
A special court of additional sessions judge VS Murkute on Monday acquitted all the 21 persons of arson and looting on January 10, 1993, around Swan Mill compound in Central Mumbai.
The NM Joshi Marg police had booked 51 persons, allegedly caught for pelting stones and setting on fire shops and residences and damaging property during the riots.
The trial of 30 of them was separated and 21 persons acquitted on Monday were tried separately.
Most of the police personnel, who were witnesses in the case, had identified the accused and said they were apprehended on the spot, said Sunil Vichare, who defended the 11 Shiv Sena activists along with another advocate Prakash Bhoir.
“However, the only eyewitness, who had been injured in police firing, failed to identify any of them,” said Vichare. "We maintained that the accused had nothing to do with the riots and they were arrested during the night from their respective residences in Central Mumbai."
According to the defence lawyer, the special court acquitted all the accused primarily for want of testimony of any independent witness, who could support the prosecution case.
Mumbai witnessed communal riots after the demolition of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya in December 1992.
Around 900 people were killed, more than 2,000 others injured and property worth crores of rupees destroyed during the 1992-93 riots.