A court in Kolkata on Thursday acquitted a Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader accused of attacking West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee 29 years ago, The Indian Express reported. The court acquitted Lalu Alam as there were no witnesses and no evidence to convict him of the crime.

The prosecution had alleged that on August 16, 1990, Alam hit Banerjee on the head with a stick during a rally at the Hazra Crossing in Kalighat in Kolkata, News18 reported. Banerjee, then a leader of the Youth Congress, suffered a skull fracture and had to be hospitalised for over a month.

Radhakanta Mukherjee, the counsel appearing for the West Bengal government in the case, said: “Of those who were named in the chargesheet, a few have died while few others went absconding. There is nothing left in the case. The government decided that it would only waste its time and money by pursuing this case.”

Mukherjee told reporters that the chief minister had agreed to depose in court via video conferencing, but this could not be arranged. The lawyer also claimed that the erstwhile Left Front government, which ruled West Bengal till 2011, had blocked the case for 21 years.

Banerjee had appeared before the Alipore court as a witness in 1994.

“I am feeling relieved today,” Alam said following the verdict. “I don’t have words to express my delight. If the government had taken this decision in 2011 [when Mamata Banerjee became the chief minister] I would have been able to focus on my work more.”

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