Four convicted for murder of L N Mishra

In what could be a conviction after one of the longest trials, a Delhi court on Monday convicted three Ananda Margis and an advocate for conspiring and murdering former railway minister L N Mishra and two others nearly 40 years ago.

Ananda Margis Santoshananda Avadhuta (75), Sudevananda Avadhuta (79), and Gopalji (73), and 66-year-old advocate Ranjan Dwivedi were convicted under Sections 302 (murder), 326 (causing grievous hurt) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC, among others.

More than 20 judges heard the case and 160 prosecution witnesses and 40 defence witnesses have presented their testimony. Mishra, railway minister in Indira Gandhi Cabinet, died on January 3, 1975, a day after a bomb blast injured him at a function at Samastipur Railway Station in Bihar.

Special public prosecutor N K Sharma, who has been associated with the case for the past 11 years, said the allegation of delay on part of the prosecution was incorrect.

“The pendency was due to the reason that the case was challenged in higher courts several times. Prosecution is not at fault for the delay, and even the Supreme Court has accepted this,” he said.

Advocates Firoz Ahmed and R S Sharma, appearing for convicts Santoshananda and Dwivedi, said the verdict was “unfortunate” and “unexpected”, and that they would challenge it in a higher court.

Founded by P R Sarkar, Ananda Marg, which was banned during the Emergency, was embroiled in controversy from time to time.

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