After 16 longs years of struggle, 17 Trinamool Congress workers and leaders who had been arrested in connection with the Keshpur massacre in 2002, were acquitted by the Midnapore Court on Thursday.
79 people, including 17 TMC workers, were arrested based on an FIR lodged by a CPI(M) leader following the killings, where five CPI(M) workers and one TMC worker were killed. During the trial, 61 people were granted bail and one died.
Locals, however, had alleged that many more – including several TMC supporters – were killed during the Left Front rule. People reportedly had seen blood stains on roads and said that CPI(M) tried to hush up the incident.
TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee went to the spot the day after the massacre and found that many of her supporters had been torched. Empty bullet cartridges were found in villages Chakgobindapur and Madhupur. TMC leaders Mukul Roy and Pankaj Banerjee had lodged a complaint at Keshpur police station.
On Thursday, seventh additional judge of the Midnapore Court, Prasad Kumar Roy, released all 17 persons unconditionally after acquitting them, as there was no evidence against them for being involved in the crime.
State counsel Gautam Mallick said that Niranjan Panja, nephew of one of the victims, had lodged an FIR against 79 people. Of the 79, 61 were granted bail and one Asim Roy had died when the trial was in progress.
Defence counsel Animesh Adhikary said: “Today, it has been proven that his (Mallick) clients were being framed and CPI(M) had lodged false complaint against them. Today, people came to know what the truth was.”
District TMC leaders on Thursday said that the history of CPI(M)’s torture on common people had once again come to light, with a few days left ahead of the election in some more Assembly constituencies in the state. This is how they had committed crimes one after the other and workers of the party in Opposition were always being framed, said a anonymous TMC leader.
Family members of the TMC leaders and workers, who were acquitted, expressed their happiness. At the same time, they vented out their anger on CPI(M) for framing their family members who were forced to spend 16 prime years of their life behind bars without having committed any crime.