Ram Ratan, now 65, has finally been acquitted by a local court in Muzaffarnagar because police failed to produce any evidence against him.
Twenty-four years ago, he was booked for possessing an illegal firearm and also served three months in jail.
His family claimed the charges against him were false and he was booked due to an electoral enmity during panchayat polls.
“Ram Ratan had to be present in court on more than 500 dates during the past 24 years. He suffered a lot of mental and physical harassment,” said his lawyer Dharam Singh Gujjar.
Ram Ratan, a resident of Rohana Khurd village in Muzaffarnagar, was arrested in 1996 by a police team from the city Kotwali police station that alleged to have recovered a country-made pistol with two bullets from his possession.
He was booked under the Arms Act and sent to jail. After spending three months in prison, he was granted bail.
In 2006, the local court framed charges against him and asked police to present evidence and the recovered weapon before it.
After waiting for 14 years, the CJM court acquitted Ram Ratan, observing that it was “left with no other option”.
“The court had been asking the prosecution to provide evidence and gave them enough time, but they failed to produce any evidence against my client. Because of the lack of evidence, the court acquitted him,” his lawyer said.
Ram Ratan told reporters, “I was 41 when they arrested and charged me. It seems like a really long time. I can finally heave a sigh of relief. But I do not know who will compensate me for the years of torture and harassment.”