Bihar court acquits 11 Nepal Maoist leaders

Patna: Eleven Maoist leaders were today acquitted by a Bihar court which took into consideration the decision to withdraw cases against them to help bolster bilateral ties between India and Nepal.

Additional District Judge(IX) Bashishtha Narain Singh ordered the acquittal of the Nepal Maoist leaders after holding a hearing on the state government`s petition to withdraw the cases against them. Bihar government had on February 1 moved the court seeking to withdraw cases lodged against them apparently following a request from the Union Home Ministry.

Public prosecutor Jai Prakash Singh said he had filed a petition in the court under section 321 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CRPC). Under the section, the public prosecutor or assistant public prosecutor in-charge of a case may with the consent of the court at any time before the judgement is pronounced withdraw from prosecution of any person either generally or in respect of anyone or more of the offences for which he is tried.

The Centre, responding to a request from the Nepal government, had formally started the process of withdrawing criminal cases against the 11 Maoist leaders pending in a district court here since 2004. The Nepal Maoist leaders had been arrested from different hotels of Patna in May 2004 for their alleged involvement in anti-India activities and conspiracy against the erstwhile regime in Nepal and were first issued non-bailable warrants in December 2006.

The Union Home Ministry had recently dispatched a letter to Bihar government requesting it to go ahead with the withdrawal of the cases taking into consideration the changed political scenario in Nepal and friendly relations between the two countries, official sources said. The Nepal Maoist leaders are Chitra Bahadur Shrestha, Lokendra Bista, Kul Bahadur KC, Kumar Dahal, Hit Bahadur Tamang, Anil Sharma, Dilip Maharjan, Ranju Thapa, Suman Tamang, Shyam Kishor Prasad Yadav and Min Prasad.