Gujarat's anti-rioting riots: five acquitted in 1985, murder police officer

AHMEDABAD: Thirty-four years after a police constable was killed in the city during the anti-reservation riots, five persons including a BJP leader were acquitted on Tuesday by a city sessions court for want of evidence.

In 1985, a police constable Lakshman Desai was killed in Khadia when a gathering to protest against the OBC quota system in government jobs and education turned violent. Seven persons were arraigned as accused including former BJP minister Ashok Bhatt, former BJP MP Harin Pathan, Mayur Dave, Vijay Shah, Kiran Shah, Dhruv Vyas and Madhukar Vyas.

Two politicians, Bhatt and Pathak, were discharged by the court in this case and the sessions court conducted the trial against five others. As the trial took place more than three decades after the incident, the court did not find any evidence. The police officer who had lodged the FIR did not identify the accused in court. Other witnesses too did not support the prosecution’s case satisfactorily. The court acquitted the accused persons for want of evidence, said their advocate Chetan Shah.

The acquittal in this case was recorded by additional sessions judge A R Patel. He heard the case after one of the accused persons, Vijay Shah, requested the principal sessions judge in December last year to transfer the case from additional sessions judge N P Syed accusing that she appeared prejudicial and the accused feared that the outcome of the trial would be nothing but conviction. The case was transferred to judge Patel.

The trial was delayed in this case following various litigations in higher courts. The victim’s window fought the legal battle up to the Supreme Court for proper investigation and against the lower court’s decision to discharge senior BJP leaders. Due to various litigations, the trial in this case remained stayed for many years.

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