1987 Maliana riot case: Meerut court acquits 40 accused due to lack of evidence

Meerut (Uttar Pradesh): A court here has acquitted 40 people accused of arson, murder and rioting in the 36-year-old Maliana communal clash case for lack of evidence. On May 23, 1987, riots broke out in Maliana, following clashes in Hashimpura on May 22 that year in the aftermath of the communal violence in the city during Shab-e-Barat on April 14 that left 12 dead.

In the violence in Maliana, 63 people were killed, while in Hashimpura, 42 people lost their lives.

After hearing both sides in the Maliana case, Additional District and Sessions Judge Lakhwinder Sood on Saturday, acquitted the 40 accused.

The victim’s family members have said they would appeal against the verdict in the high court.

Advocate CL Bansal, representing the accused, said the court acquitted them due to lack of evidence citing lack of evidence.

More than 800 dates were taken for hearing in the Maliana case. There were 74 witnesses in the trial, out of which only 25 are left. Some witnesses have also moved out of town.

The case was filed against 93 people — named and unnamed — on May 24, 1987, and of them, 40 have died and the others cannot be traced. The incident took place at Maliana Holi Chowk in Meerut on May 23, 1987, and Yakub Ali, a local, filed a case against 93 people on May 24 that year, Additional District Government Advocate (ADGC) Sachin Mohan told reporters.

In the incident that occurred on May 23, 1987, about 63 people were killed and more than 100 were injured, according to Mohan.

Ali had alleged that the accused committed arson and opened fire on people, the ADGC said.

Mohan said that in the Maliana case, 10 witnesses, including the plaintiff, testified in the court, but the prosecution was not successful in proving the case against the accused on the basis of sufficient evidence.

The court, after observing the testimony of the witnesses and the evidence on file, ordered the acquittal of 40 accused, giving them the benefit of doubt, Mohan said.

He said that 40 other accused in the case have died since the incident and the remaining could not be traced.

Following the verdict, Mahtab (40), a family member of one of the victims of the Maliana violence, told reporters that his “father Ashraf was shot dead during the riots”.

“I was very young at that time. He was killed for no reason,” Mahtab said and added that “the decision of the court is not just and he will appeal in the high court soon after holding talks with other families (of victims)”.

Afzal Saifi (45) said that he would appeal against the court’s decision in the high court.

He said on the day of the violence, his father Yasin was shot dead when he was returning home, and his body dumped near a sugar mill.

Following the series of riots in Meerut in 1987, the administration, to bring the situation under control, had imposed curfew, but tensions remained high and intermittent clashes kept taking places for nearly three months.

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