All 19 accused in naxal attack acquitted

All 19 accused in naxal attack acquitted

Freed: The 19 people accused of killing eight policemen at Venkatammanahalli in Pavagad, walk out of the local court after being acquitted, in Tumkur on Saturday. KPN

On February 10, 2005, a group of about 200 suspected naxals had attacked the ninth battalion of the Karnataka State Reserve Police while they were camping at a school and rained bombs and bullets on them.

The attack, which left a police sub-inspector, seven constables and a civilian dead, was said to be in retaliation to naxal leader Saket Rajan’s killing in a police encounter at Menasina Hadya in Chikmagalur.

The police had arrested 109 suspects in the case, of which charge sheets were filed against 22, including three minor boys.

Want of evidence

Reading out the judgement in a packed hall of the Second Additional District Sessions Court, Judge B Balakrishna said the accused were acquitted for want of evidence.

“You are not being acquitted because you have been proven to be innocent beyond doubt or because it has been established that you are not naxals or have no connections with naxal groups. You are being released because the police have not conducted a thorough investigation and provided enough evidence to convict you,” the judge said reading out the verdict aloud.

While the judgement brought a smile on the faces of the 19 accused, the police were visibly unhappy with the outcome of the case.

The cases against the three minors among the 22 accused is being heard at the Juvenile Justice Court in Bangalore.

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