NRI, Khwaja Younus from Gulf,
software engineer, had died in police custody, following
MUMBAI, June 13, 2005
The acquittal of eight people accused in the Ghatkopar
bomb blast case by a special court here has come
as a major embarrassment for the Maharashtra government
and the Mumbai police.
According to government sources here yesterday,
despite brave talk of appeals to the Bombay High
Court, there is a feeling that the police did a
shoddy job of investigations following the blasts
in 2002 and 2003, leading to severe embarrassment
for the government.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was quick to condemn
the government for allowing the accused people free,
but critics of the state government's policy of
alleged misuse of laws such as Pota (Prevention
of Terrorism Act) blame the authorities for the
Eminent lawyer Majeed Memon, who represented some
of the accused, told Khaleej Times yesterday that
there was tremendous pressure on the police to come
out with quick results immediately after the Ghatkopar
blast of December 2002, in which two people were
killed and 50 others injured.
"There was pressure from the political bosses,
from the media, from other political parties and
groups," says Memon. "And after the initial
arrests, they patted themselves on their back for
having done a fine job."
But grave disservice was done by the authorities,
as the actual culprits got away scot-free, and innocent
youngsters were booked under Pota and had to suffer
all these months.
Memon now plans to move the courts, seeking compensation
on behalf of the accused, who were jailed. Likewise,
the family of Khwaja Younus may also claim compensation,
for the death of the Gulf-based NRI software engineer
in police custody.
The special Pota court acquitted all eight people,
including Dr Abdul Mateen, who was alleged to be
the mastermind behind the blasts, as the police
were unable to provide any concrete evidence linking
the accused persons to the crime. Even the government's
key eyewitness, the conductor of the bus in which
the bomb exploded, turned hostile, and refused to
identify any of the accused persons.
According to the police, the series of bomb blasts
in Mumbai in 2002 and 2003 the Ghatkopar
blast was the first, followed by those in Bombay
Central, Vile Parle, Mulund, and the twin blasts
in south Mumbai were masterminded by the
Lashkar-e-Tayyba, and other militant bodies, as
revenge for the killings of Muslims in Gujarat.
NRI, Khwaja Younus, who had come home on vacation
from the Gulf, were picked up by the police on suspicion
of their links to militants. Muslim leaders had
criticised the police for rounding up youngsters
on mere suspicion, and even torturing them.
The first judgement by the special Pota court,
acquitting all eight people (earlier, the government
had been ordered to release nine other people, as
the police had failed to provide evidence of their
links to the conspiracy) has come as a major setback
to the state government.
MUMBAI, June 12, 2005
In a major setback to the prosecution, a special
court here yesterday acquitted all the accused in
the Ghatkopar bomb blast case, in which two people
were killed and nearly 50 injured in December 2002.
Judge A.P. Bhangale of the special Prevention of
Terrorism Act (POTA) court acquitted all eight accused,
including Dr Abdul Mateen, a forensic expert. One
of the accused persons, Khwaja Younus, a Gulf-based
NRI software engineer, had died in police custody,
following alleged torture.
The prosecution case began to tumble after Dattatraya
Shelkar, the conductor of the BEST (Bombay Electricity
Supplies & Transport) bus, in which the bomb
exploded, turned hostile. According to the police,
the conductor had earlier, during an identification
parade, named three of the accused persons as having
planted the bomb in the bus.
However, during the trial, Shelkar denied any knowledge
about the accused persons, and the prosecution declared
him hostile. Ten other witnesses also turned hostile,
resulting in a major blow to the prosecution. These
witnesses included the staff at the JJ Hospital
hostel, where one of the accused, Mateen, was staying.
Nine other accused persons were released last year,
following the failure of the prosecution to provide
any evidence. According to the police, the bomb
blast was part of a major conspiracy allegedly hatched
by the Lashkar-e-Tayyba, a militant body, seeking
revenge for the Gujarat communal riots, in which
hundreds of Muslims were killed.
The Ghatkopar blast was the first one, followed
by other blasts in Bombay Central, Vile Parle and
Mulund during 2002 and 2003. The twin blasts that
year were also allegedly part of the conspiracy,
according to the prosecution.
However, many of the accused persons, who have
been acquitted, are also alleged to have been involved
in the other bomb blast cases.
NRI, Khwaja Younus from Gulf , was picked up by
the police when he was in India on holiday. He was
allegedly beaten in custody and succumbed to his
wounds. However, the police allegedly concocted
a story, claiming that he escaped near Ahmednagar,
when he was being taken in a police vehicle.
Khwaja's father filed a habeas corpus writ petition
in the Bombay High Court, following which the authorities
admitted to his custodial death.