Of the 41 verdicts delivered by various local courts on cases relating to the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots that claimed the lives of at least 65 people, 40 have resulted in the acquittal of the accused, says a report by the Indian Express (IE).
The riots took place when Samajwadi Party was ruling in UP and investigations began at that time and continued under the Akhilesh Yadav government.The newspaper report cited the reasons behind all the accused being acquited by the court. Dushyant Tyagi, District Government Counsel, Muzaffarnagar explained that in all the cases, the prime witnesses did not turn up and were declared hostile by the court.
Another report based on an investigation of court documents relating to undertaken by IE is based on the testimonies, and witnesses that turned hostile, the courts acquitted all in the 10 murder trials that ended between January 2017 and February 2019.
The newspaper spoke to Zarif, a labourer who had filed an FIR after his father’s death during the riots, refused to identify the accused during the trial. He confessed that he had to compromise because of his weakness. “If we had the capacity, we would have fought the case up to the High Court and Supreme Court.”
The court experienced the same behavioural pattern of witnesses in nine other cases that ended with an acquittal.
DH reported that the UP government had recommended withdrawal of 38 criminal cases against more than 100 people, who were accused in the riots.
The Muzaffarnagar riots were termed as the “worst violence in UP” with the army being deployed in the state for the first time in 20 years.
This story first appeared in The Deccan Herald on July 20, 2019 here.