Pune: Thirteen years after the Sambhaji Brigade ransacked the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (BORI) in Pune, the Pune District and Sessions Court on Friday acquitted 68 of the outfit’s activists who were accused of the vandalism.The outfit had made headlines in January 2004 after it ransacked BORI, which houses one of South Asia’s largest collection of rare manuscripts, to protest against American scholar James Laine’s book Shivaji: Hindu King in Islamic India. The Brigade had also accused 12 staff members at the institute of ‘collaborating’ with Mr. Laine.Assistant Sessions Judge S.M. Gharat passed the directive acquitting the accused of all charges, including rioting, unlawful assembly and damage to property.On January 5, 2004, the attackers had assaulted a peon and broken equipment, smashed window panes and damaged manuscripts. A rare translation of the Rig Veda by Shankaracharya was found lying on the pavement outside the institute. Authorities estimated the losses to be in crores of rupees.The Deccan Gymkhana police had arrested 72 persons under Sections 141, 144 (dealing with unlawful assembly), 147 (rioting), 425 (damage to property), 391 (dacoity) and other sections pertaining to conspiracy, of the Indian Penal Code. The Criminal Amendment Act, Maharashtra Police Act and Maharashtra Defacement of Public Properties Act were also applied. Four of the 72 have since died.