Three Muslim youth innocent, discharged by court in 2006 Guj railway station blast

By Staff Reporter,

Mumbai: In yet another setback to Gujarat’s Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS), three Muslim youths have been discharged by a local court in Ahmadabad in an 8-year-old case pertaining to a bomb blast at the Kalupur railway station in the Gujarat capital.

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The Metropolitan court on Monday discharged Afroz Pathan, Bilal Ahmed and Mustufa Saiyed in a case of February 19, 2006 blast at the Ahmedabad railway station in which at least 10 persons injured. Earlier in 2013, two other Muslim youth were similarly acquitted in separate blast related cases as the ATS could not provide evidence against them.

Site of Feb 2006 Railway Blast in Ahmedabad - (Courtesy: Vishwa Gujarat)
Site of Feb 2006 Railway Blast in Ahmedabad – (Courtesy: Vishwa Gujarat)

The latest acquittal came after Gujarat ATS filed a charge sheet in the case against Amir Shakil, Aqif Bayabani, Aslam Kashmiri and Zabiuddin Ansari under section 121 A, 120 (B) , 307 & 124 A of IPC and Sec 13 & 18 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). While submitting the charge sheet, the ATS filed an application u/s 169 of Criminal Code pleading discharge for other three accused as the agency could not collect any prosecutable evidences against trio.

The metropolitan court accepted the plea and discharged the three accused from the case.

Pathan, Ahmed and Saiyed were not arrested immediately after the blast but on June 12 this year from Mumbai prison, where they were already facing another trial for the 2006 Aurangabad arms haul. Gujarat ATS arrested them as their names had cropped up during the questioning of other accused, including Zabiuddin Ansari alias Abu Jindal, who is also accused in the 26/11 case.

Defence lawyers’ reactions

AdvU D Pathan, lawyer of the accused, told, “We have been trying to convince the court ever since the arrest (of the trio) that ATS does not have any evidence to implicate them and that they are arresting these youth only on the basis of alleged statements of other accused recorded by it.”

“This order will help my clients in their Mumbai case also as their discharge (in this case) indicates that they have been falsely implicated in the case. I would get the certified copy of the discharge order and will soon send to the accused, who are imprisoned at Mumbai,” he said.

Boosted with the discharge order, Adv Nadeem Ansari, Maharashtra Jamiat lawyer in Mumbai, told, “The accused were not aware of the order as they were not produced in Ahmedaad court. We will soon tender the certified copy of the discharge order before MCOC special court and (we believe) it will help prove their innocence in this (Aurangabad) case too.”

Two acquittals in the past

On December 12, 2013, Additional Sessions Judge B S Upadhyay had acquitted Mohammad Iliyas Abdul Memon, a resident of Paldi in Ahmedabad, and Kamlesh Bhagora, a constable with Government Railway Police, for lack of evidence against them.

Memon was accused of being in contact with Aslam Kashmiri to provide logistic support but during the trial, the ATS could neither recover a cell phone from Memon’s possession nor obtain Call Data Records (CDRs) regarding his conversation with Kashmiri.

ATS had arrested Bhagora for “concealment with criminal design” who, the agency claimed, was informed about an unattended suitcase after the train terminated at Ahmedabad but instead of informing the authorities concerned he quietly kept it hidden behind crates of cold drinks. The bomb blast occurred sometime later. During the trial, he too was acquitted for lack of evidence and the judge had admonished the police for poor investigation.