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Successfully fighting with 498 (MANAGER)     03 December 2013

After 29 years, man acquitted of stealing rs 57

KANPUR: Some times justice delayed is not merely justice denied but downright cruel. Wrongly accused of pocketing Rs 57.60, postman Umakant Mishra remained suspended from his government job for nearly 30 years. He retired three years ago and was absolved of the charge in a court last month, but he remains a shattered man.

Umakant worked in a post-office in Harjinder Nagar area of Kanpur. Department authorities at the post office handed Mishra Rs 697.60 in cash to distribute as money-order. Of the total Rs 697.60, Umakant distributed Rs 300 and the rest he claimed to have returned to his senior colleagues. But they accused him of stealing Rs 57.60 and lodged an FIR against him.

That was on July 13, 1984. A case was registered against him for stealing Rs 57, and he was promptly suspended. The police booked him for criminal breach of trust.

It took nearly 350 hearings and 29 years for Umakant to prove himself innocent, but the loss he suffered in this period was enormous. The judgment was delivered by a metropolitan magistrate on November 25.

Umakant wept when he was approached for an interview. Struggling to find words, Umakant said, "I retired three years ago and remained suspended for nearly 26 years. I have no idea what to say or do."

His wife Geeta said, "I am relieved and happy with the verdict, but if we'd got justice at the right time, our children's career wouldn't have got ruined. We lived with the stigma and financial trouble for so long that our future is destroyed."

"This is apathy at its worst. We lost everything, borrowed money for our livelihood, children's education and marriage," she said. "Without regular income, we had trouble arranging for the education and marriage of our children. We sought donation to marry off our two daughters. Since we could not educate our children, our son Ganga has an insecure job.

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