A local court has acquitted all 18 persons in a 2006 case of rioting and attack on a police post in Bhiwandi town here.
District Judge A S Bhaisare observed that the prosecution failed to prove the charges against all the accused and gave them benefit of doubt.
The 18 were tried for offences under IPC sections 143, 147, 148, 335, 336, 395, 397, 427 read with 149, and relevant sections of the Bombay Police Act and Prevention of Destruction of Public Property Act.
Additional Public Prosecutor Dilip Bahiram told the court that on July 5, 2006, the mob pelted stones at a police station which was being constructed at Kotergate in Bhiwandi and tried to demolish it.
Some people from the mob broke the glass of the police station. They entered the post and broke luggage boxes of SRPF personnel and robbed them of cash, ATM cards, identity cards and threw away the goods lying there. They also set the goods of police post on fire.
Some policemen were also injured during the attack, the prosecution said.
An offence was then registered against some members of the mob with Bhiwandi city police.
Nearly 24 witnesses were examined by the prosecution during the trial.
Advocate Dhananjay Patil, appearing for the accused, contested the allegations and told the court that his clients were innocent and not involved in the crime. He, however, did not produce any witness in support of the defence.
Rejecting the prosecution's version, Judge Bhaisare noted that two material (key) witnesses are not examined by the prosecution, for reasons best known to them.
The material evidence against the accused is missing. None of the witnesses identified the accused in identification parade, as it was not conducted by Executive Magistrate. Identification of accused before court and police station cannot be said to be sufficient, he observed.
From the prosecution's story, it can safely be inferred that the mob of hundreds of people had attacked the police post and caused mischief by pelting stones and setting things on afire. But, there is no evidence on record that the accused persons were responsible for the same, the judge noted while acquitting them recently.
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