Three Muslim youth acquitted in 14 years old Lucknow case; No respite for Kashmiri youth as another case pending

By M Reyaz,,

Lucknow: A local court on Thursday acquitted three Muslim youth, including one from Kashmir, in a 14 year old case. Judge of Badrud Duja Naqvi, who was hearing the case in Lucknow Central Jail, acquitted Dr. Sayyed Abdul Mubeen, Kaleem Akhtar and Gulzar Ahmed Vani for the absence of evidence against them.

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Mubeen and Kaleem are already out on bail, but freedom for Vani is still a distant dream as one last case in pending against him in Barabanki.

Speaking to TCN, Advocate Mohammad Shoaib, President of Rihai Manch, said that the prosecution could not produce a single credible evidence against them. Advocate Shoaib was defending Kaleem and Gulzar Vani in the case while Mubeen was represented by Advocate Naimish Singh.

Advocate Singh too echoed Shoaib and said that no proper procedure was followed by the investigating agencies and they miserably failed to produce any proper evidence against the accused, and hence his client was acquitted.

Giving details of the case, Advocate Shoaib said that apparently a blast had occurred in Sahkarita Bhawan Lucknow on August 15, 2000 where no casualty or injuries happened, although window panes and other similar things were broken. Sub Inspector Rajesh had filed an FIR in the Qaisarbagh Police Station detailing the blast that he heard loud noise and saw the black smoke coming out and hence ran to see.

Advocate Shoaib noted that there was a single witness of the Police in the Lucknow case Shibli Baig, himself a member of SIMI, who later turned hostile and in fact even said that he was picked up by the police and was forced to give statement against them.

Mubeen, a resident of Siddharthnagar in eastern Uttar Pradesh, was first arrested from Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) where he was a student of Unani Medicines and member of Students Islamic Movement of India. SIMI was not banned then (it was first banned on September 27, 2001). He was first arrested in connection with the Agra blast, but according to police, he later ‘confessed’ to have carried out blasts in Barabanki, Kanpur and Lucknow as well.

Apparently, during the interrogation on 13 September, 2000 Mubeen also revealed that Gulzar Vani and Kaleem were involved in the blasts. Kaleem, who was also a member of SIMI and originally from Lucknow, was a teacher in a school in Kashmir at the time and Vani was from Baramula in Kashmir and was doing PhD in Arabic at the Aligarh Muslim Univeristy, although according to Advocate Shoaib, he was “not a member of the Students’ Islamic Movement.”

Kaleem was accused of only the Lucknow blast, while cases against Vani was filed in Delhi, Lucknow, Kanpur, Barabnki and Agra. Vani was arrested in July end in 2001 by the Delhi Police with “a huge cache of explosive ammunition.” He was allegedly also ‘interrogated’ in Tihar Jail where he apparently “confessed” to his involvement in the blasts. He was then described as a “big fish.”

They were charged under section 121, 121A, 122, 123 and 124A of the Indian Penal Code for constructing and planting of a bomb, and conspiring against the nation in Lucknow and elsewhere.

As there was lone case on Kaleem in Lucknow, who was already out on bail, he now feels relieved. Although Mubeen too is out on bail, and has already been acquitted in other cases, trial in pending in one last case in Barabanki. Similarly one last case in pending against Vani in Barabanki, although he too has already been acquitted from cases in Delhi, Kanpur, Agra and now Lucknow.

Vani has not been as lucky though as while the other two were finally granted bail after spending several years in jail and are at least breathing free air, his bail plea was resisted by the prosecution on the ground that he is a Kashmiri and it would be difficult to trace him if he is granted bail. Consequently he is still languishing in jail.

Family members of Gulzar Vani are still in trauma and when TCN called them to know if they are relieved that he has been acquitted in another case, suspiciously they refused talking, urging instead to talk to the lawyer.

Speaking to TCN, Rihai Manch spokesperson Rajeev Yadav said that these cases had become the main pretext for banning SIMI finally in September 2001 by the NDA Government. If the accused in all these cases are now being acquitted, it points to larger sinister design, he pointed out.

Speaking to TCN, Kaleem said that when he heard the court’s verdict on Thursday, he felt “relived.” He added, “I was always confident of coming out clean as I had not done anything wrong, but the wait had just become too long.”

Kaleem expressed his sorrow on the “prejudices and bias” against a particular community amongst the investigating agencies and that every terror case begins with “pre-conceived” directions. He alleged that the “certain people” in government and police do not want the truth to come out and hence prolong the trial.

He said that he was detained from September 27, 2000 in Kashmir after which he was produced in court and sent to UP. Kaleem said that although was not physically tortured he had to go through “mental agony.” Pointing to the “bias,” he said that when the police was sure that he would get the bail – which he got in April, 2001 – they had prolonged his incarnation by putting NSA (National Security Act) on him.

Kaleem demanded that some “moral responsibility and accountability of police officers involved in falsely implicating Muslim youth must be fixed.”

Click here to know details of Gulzar vani case

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