All accused in Prof Sabharwal murder case acquitted

A special court on Monday acquitted all the six students accused of killing a professor inside their college complex in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh, nearly three years ago writes Pradip Kumar Maitra.
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Updated on Jul 13, 2009 11:49 PM IST
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Hindustan Times | By Pradip Kumar Maitra, Nagpur

A special court on Monday acquitted all the six students accused of killing a professor inside their college complex in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh, nearly three years ago.

Prof HS Sabharwal was allegedly attacked by members of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), student wing of RSS, on August 26, 2006, because he cancelled elections to the students’ council on account of some irregularities. He died the next day, and a post-mortem report confirmed he sustained two broken ribs and bleeding that caused his death.

But a special court in Nagpur, which was directed by the Supreme Court to hear the case, on Monday ruled that there wasn’t enough evidence to convict the six students.

The ruling provoked Sabharwal’s family to demand a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation and sparked criticism from several political parties.

“How could we expect ABVP men to be punished when the chief minister of the state gives them (the attackers) clean chit just two days after the incident,” Prem Sabharwal, the victim’s wife, said referring to the stance taken by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan of BJP at the time of the incident. She said the investigation should be handed over to CBI as state agencies had failed in carrying out their task.

While acquitting the students, Additional District and Session Judge Nitin Dalvi said the prosecution had miserably failed to prove the charges and that he regretted being unable to bring justice to the victim and his family. “There was no evidence linking the accused, who were members of the ABVP, to the crime,” he said.

The accused were Vimal Tomar, Vishal Rajoria, Pankaj Mishra, Shashi Ranjan Akela, Sumant Dube and Sudhir Yadav. They were charged with Sections 302, 146 and 147 (murder, rioting and unlawful assembly) of the Indian Penal Code.

Defence counsel Pushpendra Kaurav said the prosecution failed to prove that the accused were present in the college at the time of the incident and the motive behind the attack too was not substantiated.

On his part, government prosecutor Pratul Shandilya said he would study the judgement and, if necessary, recommend the Madhya Pradesh government to appeal the high court.

“I am not satisfied with the police investigation. They have not adequately helped me in the prosecution,” he said. “Eyewitnesses turned hostile which was not in my control.”

Komal Singh Sengar, a peon at the college who was injured in the incident, said that the professor was attacked by a mob of 25-30 people and no one came forward to help him. But he couldn’t identify the students during the prosecution.

Sabharwal, the victim, headed political science department at Ujjain’s Madhav College and he in Ujjain. He was entrusted with supervising elections to the students’ council

The case was transferred from a court in Ujjain court to Nagpur, after Sabharwal’s son, Himanshu, urged the Supreme Court that he was not sure of a fair trial in Madhya Pradesh, where the BJP was in power at the time of the incident.

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