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Five years after police horse, Shaktiman died following an injury during a BJP rally in Uttarakhand, the Dehradun Chief Judicial Magistrate court acquitted key accused Ganesh Joshi and four others on Thursday. Joshi is a cabinet minister in the Pushkar Dhami cabinet.
Videos and photos of the incident, back in March 2016 purportedly showed Joshi, BJP MLA from Mussoorie charging with a stick towards the 13-year-old mounted police horse ‘Shaktiman’ during a rally held by the BJP near the state assembly on March 14, 2016.
More than 28 witnesses were identified in the charge sheet in the incident which made national headlines. Around six recorded statements and most of the remaining reportedly turned hostile.
“Contradictory statements of the witnesses and lack of evidence gave room for the acquittal,” told Manmohan Kandwal, the counsel of Ganesh Joshi.
An emotional cabinet minister Joshi said it’s a victory of truth. “I was saying from the very beginning that I am innocent. Now it has been proved” he told. He went on saying the case was a conspiracy against him by the then Congress government.
It is learnt, following the incident, the then Harish Rawat government booked Joshi under various sections of the Indian Penal Code for allegedly showing cruelty. Subsequently, the MLA was sent to 14 days of judicial remand.
The visuals from the BJP rally indicated the horse fell on the ground during the ruckus and his hind leg got fractured. Moments before, BJP MLA Joshi was purportedly seen charging towards the mounted police force horse. A team of veterinarians worked hard to save the horse, arranged a prosthetic leg for Shaktiman but he died a few days later owing to medical complications.
The incident triggered a social and political storm, bringing criticism from political parties and animal rights groups.
Interestingly, in October 2017, the present BJP government decided to withdraw the case against Joshi but were unsuccessful due to technicalities involved in the case.
The Shaktiman case has remained as an ‘emotional thread’ for the mounted police force. A statue has been installed at Dehradun police lines in his memory. Besides, a petrol pump has also been named after the white-trained horse which was pride for the force.
(With inputs from Satendra Barthwal)