‘Investigation was one-sided’: Kerala court acquits accused in Riyas Moulavi murder case

The court said the prosecution was not able to prove the motive of the murder and that the accused harbored enmity towards Muslim men. The verdict stated that the prosecution also failed to prove that the accused were affiliated to the RSS.
Riyas Moulavi
Riyas MoulaviX
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The Judicial First Class Magistrate court in Kasaragod has acquitted all three accused in the sensational Riyas Moulavi murder case. The madrassa teacher was hacked to death inside the premises of the Old Juma Masjid, allegedly by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) workers, on March 20, 2017. The three accused– Ajesh, Akhilesh, and Nithin– were acquitted due to a lack of evidence and failure of the prosecution to prove the motive of the murder.

The special investigation team apprehended the accused two days after the murder, levying a host of charges including Sections 449 (house trespass), 302 (murder), 153A (promoting enmity on the ground of religion), 295 (defiling a place of worship), 201 (destruction of evidence) r/w 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code.

According to the prosecution, communal tension began after prime accused Ajesh was allegedly beaten by some Muslim youth at the election booth of Meppugiri LP School on May 16, 2016 during the Kerala Legislative Assembly elections. The prosecution argued that following the incident, the three accused allegedly unleashed violence towards Muslims and tried to harbor hatred towards the community. 

"With the common intention to kill any Muslim person, the accused came on an MO5 motorcycle to the Muhaiyaddeen Mosque in Madhur Panchayat at Old Choori in Kudlu village at midnight on March 20, 2017," the prosecution said. However, Judge KK Balakrishnan pointed out various lapses from the investigative officers and prosecution in his verdict. 

Though the prosecution argued that the accused had caused some communal clashes prior to the murder, the court noted that the police failed to register cases in any of such incidents. In the judgment, the court found that the prosecution was not able to prove the motive of the murder and that the accused harbored enmity towards Muslim men. Additionally, the verdict states that the prosecution also failed to prove that the accused had affiliations with the RSS.

"The prosecution has failed to substantiate the hostility of the accused towards the victim's community... the prosecution has failed to prove the precise motive of the accused to commit it," the verdict said.

The court also pointed out various other lapses by the police as well as the prosecution. "The failure of the investigating officers to investigate with respect to the contents and data of the above said phone materials cast serious doubt on the manner in which the investigation was started, conducted, and concluded," it added.

The court noted that the investigation officer failed to record the statement of the prime accused’s mother to ascertain her knowledge about his RSS affiliation. The court also pointed out the investigation officer’s failure in collecting fingerprints, DNA from the vehicle, clothes used by the accused that night of murder.

"Another failure of the investigating officers is that none of the persons residing in the homes of the three accused were questioned with respect to the allegedly seized items. There was no attempt to find any material connecting the incident from the houses of the three accused to their alleged fanatic affiliation to RSS," the verdict said.

The court concluded that the investigation was not up to the standard and one-sided. "So, the accused are entitled to the benefit of doubt," it said.

Special Public Prosecutor T Shajith expressed dismay and told the media, "It is a disappointment and it should not have happened this way. There was a lot of evidence, the first accused's DNA was proved, the second and third accused's phone tower location were inside the mosque. [I am] not sure what happened."

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