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Lucknow: In a 20-year-old case related to murder and violence during Panchayat polls, a Bahraich court on Wednesday sentenced 24 accused to life imprisonment. Cases against six more accused, who died during the course of the hearing, were set aside by the court.

Equipped with firearms, bombs and other weapons, 30 people had attacked a poll booth in Haraiyya Dolkua village in Bahraich district on June 14, 2000. They tried to indulge in bogus voting and when opposed by supporters of other candidates, they opened fire, hurled bombs and looted ballot boxes.

While one Ramesh Tiwari died on the spot, seven others had received gunshot injuries during the attack. On a complaint by the brother of the deceased, the police had registered cases against 30 accused under Sections 147, 148, 302/149, 307/149, 323, 171 of the IPC.

After hearing final arguments, the Additional Sessions Judge (sixth) Manoj Kumar Mishra-II convicted all 30 accused in the case and sentenced life imprisonment to all of them. The court, however, excluded six accused, who died during the course of the hearing, from the award of the sentence.

Large-scale violence during panchayat polls in Uttar Pradesh is common. The verdict may serve as a deterrent during the forthcoming panchayat polls in April-May and help police maintain law and order during polls, feels a senior police officer.

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