Verdict in Marad case on Nov 29

via Pioneer News Service | Kozhikode published on August 22, 2008

The Marad special court will on November 29 pronounce its verdict in the case relating to the massacre at communally sensitive Marad, Beypore in Kozhikode district on the night of May 2, 2003 in which eight Hindus were hacked and chopped to death. A decision on this was taken by the special court here on Friday morning in consultation with the counsels of the prosecution and defendants.

The Marad massacre, in which nine persons were killed in a night raid by attackers in the fishing hamlet off the harbour town of Beypore, had caused long-standing tension in the entire area. Despite several law-and-order and social campaigns, the residents of Marad are yet to return to a life of confidence.

There are a total of 139 accused in the case, the trial of which had started on December 20, 2004. The trial had concluded on April 10 last. Seventy of the accused had been granted bail in three lots as per the special conditions laid out by the Kerala High Court. Sixty-nine of the accused are still the prison.

The court in the process of the case had to examine 5,500 pages of depositions by witnesses. Altogether there were 222 witnesses from the prosecution side and seven for the defendants. The court had examined seven witnesses it had found on its own. It had also examined 778 exhibits submitted by the prosecution and 57 exhibits produced by the defence counsels. Lawyers refused to make any predictions but expected a balanced judgement to come from the court. They said the case had seen scrutinises in unprecedented levels in the four years of trial.

Representatives of Hindu organisations, however, said that the case could have been concluded even earlier if the former UDF regime and the present LDF Government had showed some more will power. They said they expected a strong verdict from the court.

Leaders of several Muslim organisations, however, refrained from making any comments, saying it was up to the court to take decisions. However, they said they had full trust in the Indian judiciary.

People of the village say that distrust among the villagers is still rampant and there are no efforts from the authorities to instill confidence in the people. The Government and the Police Department still find Marad as a potential trouble-spot and uniformed personnel are still to withdraw from the area.

People in the three-sq-km village still feel that their habitat is still not safe. There could be terror elements lurking in the shadows, they fear. These people want a strong police presence in the area. These are mostly people related to the victims of the 2003 attack.

Kerala had witnessed several political dramas as the case proceeded through the four years with complaints being raised that the leading parties in the two main fronts were not interested in taking the case to a good conclusion. This had also reflected when 70 of the accused were granted bail with stringent conditions by the High Court. The accused were granted bail on stringent conditions after the Government counsel failed to convince the court that this would imperil social equilibrium. Hindu organisations had criticised the Government for not showing the required will power in dealing with the situation.

The main condition for bail was that the accused would be allowed to travel only between the trial court and their residences, which should be in a three-kilometre radius of the trial court. Clear addresses of the houses where the accused would stay during the bail period had also to be submitted in the trial court.

The trial court was to ensure that the conditions under which the bail was being granted were fulfiled, the High Court had said. It had also said that the accused should submit undertakings in the court about adherence to the conditions.

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