A local court in Rajkot in Gujarat convicted twelve persons, including two Congress sitting MLAs and a former MP, sentencing them to one-year imprisonment and a fine of Rs 5,000 in a rioting and vandalism case that was registered in 2008.
Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate Roopa S Rajput convicted Congress MLAs from Junagadh and Wankaner, Bhikhabhai Joshi and Mohammad Javed Pirzada, respectively, as well as former Congress MLA from Rajkot East Indranil Rajyaguru, and former BJP MP Devji Fatepara, and six others and sent them to jail for one year and fined Rs 5,000 each.
The six others convicted include Rajkot District Milk Cooperative Society President Govind Ranparia, besides Congress leaders Ashok Dangar, Jaswant Singh Bhati, Mahesh Rajput, Bhikhu Vadodaria and Govardhan Damelia. The other two onvicted, former MP Vitthal Radadiya and Popat Jinjariya, had died during the course of the trial.
The magistrate suspended the sentence for 30 days and allowed the convicts to appeal against the verdict, said public prosecutor H D Chaudhary. All the accused were released on a bail of Rs 5,000 each, he added.
The case was lodged in Pradyumna Nagar police station on December 4, 2008, against 179 Congress leaders who led a mob of over 1,500 people against the arrest of then Congress MLA Kunvarji Bavaliya in a land grab case. Bavaliya is now with the BJP. The mob had entered the Rajkot’s collector’s office and resorted to vandalism, rioting and damaging public property.
After Bavaliya’s arrest, the Congress leaders had gathered for the rally and later went to the collector’s office to submit a memorandum. There they were told that only five representatives could meet the collector. But, dozens of party workers barged into the collector’s chamber, leading to chaos. Later, an agitated group started shouting slogans and went to the ground floor where already over 200 party colleagues were waiting.
Some leaders started addressing party workers and then the violent mob broke furniture, window panes and earthen tubs with plants in the collector office.
The case was then lodged against 179 people under sections 143, 147, 1549, 186, 188 of the IPC (for unlawful assembly, rioting and violation of a public order etc.) and section 3(7) of the Damage to Public Property Act.
The court, however, acquitted the remaining accused persons due to lack of evidence against them.