The Bihar Post

Man acquitted of murder charges after spending 28 years in jail



PATNA—In an incident highlighting the state of the justice delivery system in the country, a youth spent the prime time of his life in jail for the crime he had never committed and by the time he was acquitted by the court for lack of any evidence, he had turned 58—hairs turning grey, wrinkles visible on his face and the joy of acquittal completely missing from countenance. He had been arrested while he was 28-year-old and was released from the jail only after spending 28 years there!

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This is the story in nutshell of 58-year-old Birbal Bhagat who was acquitted of kidnapping-cum-murder charges by the district and sessions court judge, Gopalganj, Vishwa Vibhuti Gupta yesterday for lack of evidence. An emotional Birbal broke down in the court and hugely thanked God for “ultimately delivery justice” on him in the end.

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The undertrial prisoner didn’t come out of the jail even for a single day after being arrested for murder charge in January 1994. The saddest part of his story was that his family too completely abandoned him after believing the police theory which turned out to be “fake” in the end. Let aside filing bail petition for his release, they didn’t even come to ever meet him in prison.

The police arrested Birbal, a resident of Deoria district in Uttar Pradesh, shortly after a villager from Gopalganj district had gone missing and his family identified an abandoned body as that of the missing kin on the basis of an old photograph shown by the police. According to court officials, Birbal had accompanied a Gopalganj resident Surya Narayan Bhagat to reach Muzaffarpur for some works but he went missing and that turned his life into a virtual hell.

Reports said initially his case was put for speedy trial but later its trial got badly disrupted due to closure of the fast track court for long. The trial of this case picked up speed only recently when the case was transferred to the court of the district and sessions judge. During the course of the trail, neither the police presented its his point nor the case’s investigating officer and the doctor who performed the autopsy appeared in the court.

“Eventually, the court acquitted the undertrial prisoner of murder charges for lack of evidence,” additional public prosecutor Pervez Hsan told newsmen today. “The God listened to my prayers finally… I am a relieved person now as the taint of murder accusation has been finally removed from my face due to the court judgment,” he said. But he also expressed deep anguish over the way his kin left him to die in jail and didn’t come to meet him even once after his arrest in the case.

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