Panaji: A local court on Wednesday acquitted 40 accused, including senior BJP leaders, in the first ever communal riots case in the state, which had occurred in the twin towns of Curchorem-Sanvordem in 2006.

The session’s court at Margao acquitted 40 accused, including the BJP general secretary Satish Dhond and senior leader Sharmad Raiturcar. The accused had been charged with unlawful assembly, mischief and criminal trespass.

Riots had erupted after a mob demolished a madrassa on March 2-3, 2006, which was allegedly constructed illegally on the outskirts of Sanvordem-Curchorem.

The violence, which continued for three days before the Central Industrial Security Force stepped in, saw property worth crores of rupees gutted.

Acquitting the accused, Judge Vikaya Pol said that the prosecution had failed to prove case against the accused including the individual role played by them. The judge also observed that merely becoming a part of the assembly does not establish their crime.

"The prosecution could not prove, beyond reasonable doubt, the act or commission on the part of the accused, which would make him a member of the unlawful assembly," the judge ruled.

The court also noted that the prosecution failed to prove that the accused were a part of the assembly, which was responsible for communal violence.

During the riots, which continued for two days, shops and establishments belonging to the minority community had been targeted.

Officially, this is the first ever communal violence witnessed by the state, which is known for peace.

Police had feared that the violence would spread in other parts of the state as well.

However, the communal harmony meetings between both the communities had controlled the situation.