Dhule court acquits 21 in 2013 riots case

The 21 accused persons were identified in the crowd of over 3,000 and in the course of trial, the witnesses turned hostile, leaving no effective evidence against the accused

Communal RiotsImage Courtesy:indianexpress.com

Nearly nine years after communal riots rocked Dhule district in Maharashtra, a Sessions court has acquitted all 21 accused in the case. The case has been marred with pancha witnesses turning hostile, suspension of one of the policemen who was the complainant in the case, the demise of the investigating officer during trial, and lack of eye-witnesses in the case.

Additional Sessions Judge Aejaz H Sayyed observed that the prosecution was unable to present any evidence or witness to show how the police identified the accused and what role they played in the violence.

The 21 accused were charged with unlawful assembly, committing riot with deadly weapons, for, attempting to commit murder, dacoity, using criminal force, committing mischief by fire, voluntarily causing grievous hurt, and obstructing and voluntarily causing hurt to public servants from discharge of their duties, committing mischief by wrongful loss, disobeying the order of public servant, possessing deadly weapons and causing damage to public property.


On January 6, in Maratha Khanawal near Machhi Bazar police chowki, a quarrel allegedly erupted between boys belonging to Hindu and Muslim community and they resorted to stone pelting at each other and also, the police that reached the spot. There was an assembly of over 3,000 persons from each community. The police first used tear gas shells and then resorted to firing as the crowd grew aggressive. Out of the crowd of thousands these 21 persons were identified as accused.

While more than 200 people, including policemen and members of the two communities were injured in the violence, six Muslim people died in the police firing, prompting Muslim leaders to allege that the police was prejudiced. The Hindu had reported earlier that houses of both Hindus and Muslims were gutted, and property was damaged. Members of the Muslim community have alleged that that the rioters indulged in arson and loot with the police support. The riot was sparked off by a brawl that started over the issue of paying a restaurant bill of Rs. 30.

A similar incident of riots had taken place in the area in 2008 which had taken a much uglier turn as the violence had then spread to nearby villages as well affecting most of Dhule district.

The Macchi Bazaar chowk, where the eatery was located, is an intersection where one one sinde Hindu families reside and on the other side, Muslim families reside. After the riots, residents were fearful and said that everything was fine until that day but after the 2013 riots they had to flee.

A fact finding report by Act Now for Harmony and Democracy (ANHAD), found that the violence was largely a result of the insensitive handling of a minor quarrel by the police. It was clear from the statements of both Hindus and Muslims that tension could have been diffused easily had police taken proper steps to diffuse the tension, which was building up. It did not intervene and told the people to settle the dispute by themselves.

The report also found that burning and looting of Muslim household and shops was done by the Hindu mobs in the present of the police personnel and killings were done by the police; while there was also video footage that showed police personnel burning Muslim houses and destroying their property. Further, no relief camps were set up for the riot affected families of either communities.

Court proceedings

The three witnesses said that they were made to sign on a paper but were unaware of the contents of the same.

“A bare perusal of testimony above stated three witnesses would indicate that these three panch witnesses have turned hostile. Prosecution has not examined any eye witness to the incident. Similarly, policemen were present on the spot, but they have not been examined, for the reasons best known to the prosecution,” said the court.

About the 21 persons identified as accused and their involvement in the incident, the court said, “Admittedly 3 to 4 thousand persons were involved in the matter. FIR was lodged against 21 known and 3 to 4 thousand unknown persons. There is nothing on record to show the actual involvement or complicity of present accused Nos. 1 to 21 in said incident of rioting. There is nothing on record how police established identity and what was their actual role in the entire episode.”

The complainant, Dipak Koli, who was suspended in some other case, was not examined by the prosecution either.

“There is no scintilla of evidence against the accused persons to hold them guilty of the offence with which they are charged,” the court observed. The court thus acquitted all 21 accused of all offences while canceling their bail bonds and directed them to execute Rs. 5,000 each with one surety each in terms of Sec.437A of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

The complete judgment may be read here:


Delhi: Students, activists detained for protesting Tripura violence
Tripura violence: Hate and communal polarisation
Gujarat: Citizens group may march to Raj Bhavan to protest “inaction by police”



Related Articles