More than 29 years after he was charged as the key accused in the attempt to murder West Bengal (WB) Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Lalu Alam was acquitted by a city court on Thursday. Pushpal Satpathy, the 6th additional district and sessions judge of the Alipore court, acquitted Alam for the lack of enough evidence against him. The judge took this decision relying on Section 232 of the Criminal Procedure Act. When the incident took place, Banerjee was the President of Youth Congress in WB.
Public Prosecutor Radhakanta Mukherjee contended that the case had no future. He expressed his anguish on the fact that the trial was yet to reach the conclusive stage despite the passage of more than two decades. He revealed that many of the witnesses, including five eyewitnesses, had died. Mukherjee also mentioned that most of the accused persons were either absconding or not alive.
While the WB CM had agreed to a deposition in the court via video conference on August 21, the court did not have the requisite infrastructure to agree to this plea.
The trial originally commenced on November 2, 1992. However, the trial continued to be adjourned for the next two years as the victim, Banerjee failed to appear before the court. She was cross-examined by the prosecution when she finally made a court appearance on December 6, 1994.
Alam subsequently approached both the trial court as well as Calcutta High Court seeking to defer Banerjee’s cross-examination until other witnesses and victims were cross-examined. But his plea was rejected.
The prime accused Lalu Alam, a member of the youth wing of Communist Party of India (Marxist), allegedly hit Banerjee on the head with a stick when she led a rally to the Hazra and SP Mukherjee Road intersection in August 1990. The impact of the blow was such that her skull was fractured, leading to her being admitted to a hospital for many weeks. The police filed a Suo Moto First Information Report and Alam was taken into custody for two and a half months. When Banerjee came to power in WB in 2011 after the victory of her party Trinamool Congress, Alam apologized for his actions.