16 let off in Kandhamal violence case


Bhubaneswar: A fast track court here Friday acquitted 16 people accused of torching a police outpost and killing a policeman when Orissa’s Kandhamal district experienced widespread communal violence last year.

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All the 16 accused were acquitted Friday by the fast track court of Phulbani for want of evidence.

The 16 were accused of torching the Gochhipada police outpost in Kandhamal district and murdering a policeman. A chargesheet was submitted against 111 people in the case charging them with murder, rioting, arson and destruction of government records.

“The chargesheet had been submitted against 111 people in the case. Sixteen people had been brought for trial Friday. All of them have been let off for of evidence. Many of the witnesses remained absent Friday and those who came failed to identify the culprits,” said P.K. Patra, additional public prosecutor.

The Gochhipada police outpost was torched and constable Bibhudenra Biswal was killed by a mob Sep 15, 2008.

Kandhamal district, about 200 km from here, experienced widespread violence after the murder of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and four of his aides at his ashram Aug 23.

More than 25,000 Christians were forced to flee their homes after their houses were attacked by rampaging mobs, who held Christians responsible for Saraswati’s killing although police blamed the Maoists.

Although no violence has been reported from the region since October last year and many victims are still taking shelter in two government-run relief camps in the district.

The government has set up two fast-track courts to try cases related to the communal violence. A fast-track court had earlier sentenced a 58-year-old man to two years in jail June 30 this year.