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The Jharkhand High Court Thursday acquitted four suspected Maoists who were awarded death sentence for the 2007 massacre of 19 people, including the son of former chief minister Babulal Marandi.

A division bench of the Jharkhand High Court of Justice R.K. Merethia and Justice D.N. Upadhaya acquitted the four convicted men granting them benefit of doubt.

A Giridih court had early this year awarded death sentence to the four Maoist guerrillas involved in the massacre of 19 people at Chilkhari village of Giridih district in 2007.

Maoist guerrillas had attacked during a cultural programme in Chilkhari village at night and sprayed the assembled villagers with gunfire. In the attack, 12 were also injured. The programme was attended by Nunulal Marandi and Anup Marandi, brother and son of former chief minister Babulal Marandi. Anup Marandi was killed in the attack while Nunulal escaped.

The four men awarded death sentence were Jitan Marandi, Manoj Rajuwar, Anil Ram and Chatrapati. Their family members and many social workers defended them.

The contradictory statements of the witnesses went in favour of the accused and they were acquitted on the ground of benefit of doubt.

Police produced six witnesses who had criminal background and were not present at the programme. None of the 12 injured people could identify anyone accused of the massacre.

The acquittal is considered a setback for Jharkhand Police.



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