Chandigarh, August 26
Almost 12 years after Hurriyat Conference founder Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was allegedly roughed up and manhandled at a seminar here, a local court on Friday acquitted all 20 accused, including former Mayor Asha Jaiswal.
The acquittal came after the prosecution failed to prove charges and a majority of the prosecution witnesses failed to identify the accused before the court. Contradictions in witnesses’ statements also led to the accused walking free.
The others acquitted included Rajinder Kaur, Sunita Dhawan, Satinder Singh, Usha Sharma, Meena Sharma, Sanjay Kaul, Sanjeev Rana, Hemant Galav, Amit Rana, Chandan Sandhu, Satyavan Shera, Vijay Bharadwaj, Arvind Rana, Sunil Kansal, Sanjeev Verma, Parvesh Sharma, and Dinesh Chauhan. One of the accused had died during the trial, while another was declared a proclaimed offender. On November 25, 2010, the Mirwaiz was allegedly manhandled inside the conference hall of Kisan Bhawan in Sector 35 during a seminar organised by the International Democratic Party to discuss the Kashmir issue.
The police had registered a case on the complaint of Kheta Singh, organiser, under Sections 147, 149 and 323 of the IPC and 3 of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act.
The Mirwaiz was sharing the dais with leaders of other parties when the attack occurred. Another Hurriyat leader Bilal Lone was also present.
Chaos followed as the protesters raised slogans against the Hurriyat and Pakistan and hurled stones and flower pots. The police had detained 22 activists, including some women.
The police later presented a charge-sheet and the court framed charges against the accused, who moved a discharge plea in 2017 but it was dismissed. In June 2018, the Chandigarh police moved an application in the trial court for withdrawal of case but it was rejected.
The police then filed a criminal revision against the trial court order, but it was again dismissed by the court of the Additional Sessions Judge.
Counsels for accused Matvinder Singh, Aanchal Thakur and Ashok Chauhan said witnesses failed to identify those named in the FIR. Even the complainant denied having seen anyone attacking the Mirwaiz.
After hearing of the arguments, Judicial Magistrate First Class Jaspreet Singh Minhas acquitted the accused of all charges.
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