MUZAFFARNAGAR – Eleven men accused of arson, loot, and violence in Lisadha village of Muzaffarnagar during the 2013 riots have been acquitted by a local court for want of evidence.
On September 7, 2013, soon after a mahapanchayat in Nangla Mandaur, 13 men had allegedly attacked Lisadha village. It was alleged that a mob set fire to houses and looted property during riots at the village where members of Muslims community were targeted.
On September 16, 2013, one of the residents, Mohammed Suleiman, had filed an FIR against 13, two of whom later died during the investigation and trial. According to prosecution, a special investigation team (SIT) had filed a charge sheet against 13 people under sections 495 (arson) and 436 (mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to destroy house, etc) of the Indian Penal Code. During the hearing, three witnesses, including complainant Suleiman, turned hostile and did not support the prosecution, reported The Times of India.
Additional district and sessions Judge Sanjeev Kumar Tiwari acquitted them under sections 395 (dacoity) and 436 (arson) of the IPC on Tuesday in the riots case.
Prosecution lawyer Anjum Khan told TOI, “Eleven people have been acquitted by the court while one accused died during the trial and another during investigation. All witnesses, including the complainant, turned hostile during the course of the trial.”
Communal clashes in Muzaffarnagar and adjoining areas in August and September 2013 had claimed 60 lives and displaced over 40,000 people. In February this year, the Yogi Adityanath government had recommended withdrawal of 38 criminal cases against more than 100 individuals who were charged after the riots.
The Uttar Pradesh government gave its sanction for withdrawal of the cases on January 10 and the note was sent on January 29. The government had sought an opinion on withdrawals of at least 119 riot FIRs filed at six police stations in 2013 including Fugana, Bhaurkala, Jansath and others.