Fourteen people, including an MLA and two former MPs, were today sentenced to 10 years in jail by a fast track court in a case related to an attack on Sitamarhi collectorate and subsequent police firing in which five persons were killed in 1998.
Another convict was sentenced to five years in prison.
Those awarded 10-year imprisonment include BJP MLA from Parihar Assembly constituency Ram Naresh Yadav, former JD(U) MP from Sitamarhi Nawal Kishore Rai, former Sheohar MP and RJD leader Anwarul Haq, Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) district president Ram Lashan Singh Kushwaha and general secretary Mohan Kumar Singh.
Fast Track Court-I judge Mohammad Irshad Ali had convicted 15 persons on Tuesday under IPC sections 307 (attempt to murder), 322 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt), 324 (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 147 (punishment for rioting) and 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon).
One convict Suryadeo Rai, who was a police bodyguard of former MP Nawal Kishore Rai was handed over a 5-year prison term.
All the 15 people, who were already in jail after the conviction, were bought to the court for sentencing. They were taken back to prison in police custody after the extent of punishment was pronounced.
Thousands of supporters of the convicts had gathered outside Sitamarhi court. Soon after the sentence was announced, the crowds raised slogans against the verdict but the situation did not deteriorate due to heavy deployment of police and the political leaders involved in the case appealing to the people to maintain calm.
The case pertains to an incident on August 11, 1998 when the convicted political leaders led a huge crowd after severe floods in the district to demonstrate at Sitamarhi collectorate.
The demonstration turned violent and the people participating in it ransacked the premises, indulged in stone throwing and attacked government officials working there.
The police used batons and opened fire to control the situation. Five persons including a former MLA and freedom fighter Ram Charitra Yadav, were killed in the police action.
The then Sitamarhi district magistrate Ramnandan Prasad and superintendent of police Paresh Saxena had registered an FIR against 60 persons at Dumra Police Station. However, 45 of them were set free by the court in the absence of proof.