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Kolkata: Twenty-nine years since Mamata Banerjee was allegedly attacked by CPI-M cadres at Hazra in Kolkata, the accused in the case has now been acquitted for want of evidence against him.

This is primarily because Banerjee did not come forward to depose before the court, and the prosecution failed to produce witnesses to indict Lalu Alam, the prime accused in the case.

On 16 August 1990, Congress had called Bengal bandh against alleged ill governance by then CPI-M led government. Banerjee was then a firebrand leader of the Youth Congress.

Leading a team of Congress workers, she hit the streets from morning enforcing the bandh. Countering this, CPI-M also pressed in its cadres to foil the bandh.

In the course of this, a clash broke out between CPI-M and Congress workers at Hazra Crossing in south Kolkata. In trying to save a Congress cadre, Banerjee came in the line of attack and was allegedly hit in the head with a lathi.

Acting on an FIR, police arrested CPI-M leader Lalu Alam that night on charges of masterminding and carrying out the attack. He remained in jail custody for nearly three months and then came out on bail.

Banerjee, on the other hand, remained hospitalised for several days. This became a turning point in her political career.

The investigation went on for several yearsand the police then filed a charge-sheet against 12-people, including Alam. However, other than Alam, all the others named in the charge-sheet were either dead or absconding.

The trial began at the Alipore Court last year and Banerjee, now the head of Trinamool and Chief Minister, was asked to depose. She skipped appearing in court citing a hectic schedule.

The court then said that the CM can depose through video-conference. But this plan too was shelved for want of required infrastructure in the court.

Later on, the public prosecutor wrote to the court saying that the prosecution no longer wants to pursue a case that is lingering for so many years.

Thus, finally today, the court acquitted CPI-M leader Alam in the case after 29 years. Judge Pushpal Satpathi said that the evidence furnished by the police could not prove that he was involved in the attack.

Reacting to the judgment, Alam said that he has been saying from day one that he was not present at Harza Crossing at the time of the incident. “I am happy to be having been acquitted but this should have happened much earlier.”

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