Soren acquitted in Chirudih massacre case

March 6th, 2008 - 7:27 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh
(Lead)
By Nityanand Shukla
Ranchi, March 6 (IANS) Former union coal minister and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) chief Shibu Soren was Thursday acquitted in a 33-year-old massacre case by a fast track court, triggering celebrations among his supporters. Arun Kumar, Additional District Judge (ADJ) of a fast tract court of Jamtara district, acquitted Soren and 13 others citing lack of evidence and gave them the benefit of the doubt.

“There were a total of 22 accused and seven were convicted and one is still absconding. Soren and 13 others were acquitted as the court did not find any evidence against him,” said D.N. Manjhi, a lawyer of Soren.

The prosecution had 18 witnesses while the defence had 23.

The case relates to the massacre of 11 people, including nine Muslims, in Chirudih village of Jamtara district on Jan 23, 1975, by a mob following a movement launched by Soren to drive away the Dikus (outsiders). Soren was accused of inciting the mob to kill the outsiders.

He was acquitted despite the dying statement of one witness Lakendra Soren, who had stated that Shibu Soren incited the mob to kill the outsiders.

A warrant was pending against Soren issued by the Jamatra court since 1984. The warrant surfaced in July 2004 and Soren had to quit as union coal minister from the Manmohan Singh cabinet. After remaining underground for a few days, the Jharkhand leader surrendered in a Jamtara court and remained in jail for more than a month.

JMM workers hailed Thursday judgement. “Justice has been done with Guru-ji (as Soren is called) after three decades. We were sure that he would be acquitted,” said Vinod Pandey, a JMM worker.

The JMM members danced to drum beats and put gulal on each other to celebrate the acquittal of Soren.

There were three cases pending against Soren in Jharkhand. The trial in another case is going on in Giridih district. This relates to the murder of three people over a dispute that followed the killing of a goat in Kudko village in 1978.

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