Tuesday, July 16, 2013

I’m innocent, convicted spy says in tears



Rebecca Samervel & Mateen Hafeez TNN

Asessions court convicted visa agent Javed Mozawala (32) on Monday, saying he had obtained information useful to the nation’s enemies. Referring to a telephone directory seized from him, judge Vrushali Joshi said it was a restricted document, which could be misused by “civilians with wrong intent”. She said the directory revealed detailed information about the functioning of the army and Pakistan’s intelligence operatives had called on the numbers to draw information about the organization, its appointments and functions. 
 
“Therefore, it is a matter of security concern.”   The evidence the court took into account included pictures of Lonavla Dam and the Pir Pau Jetty. “If something goes wrong at the… dam, the entire lake water will get drained into Lonavala city. There will be floods… and this will cause damage to life and property. It will cause havoc,” the judge observed. She said the jetty’s photographs could be used by the nation’s enemies to plan attacks, “causing economic distress and industrial disaster” that would affect fuel supply to Mumbai. Special public prosecutor Prakash Shetty sought maximum punishment for Mozawala. “This is a very serious offence. He has done it for monetary benefits,” said Shetty. 

    Mozawala started sobbing inconsolably when the court sentenced him. His mother, Kulsum Bi, told the court, “My son is innocent. He has two little girls. Please leave him.” The judge replied, “What has happened has happened.”  Mozawala told TOI, “I’m innocent. My lawyer provided favourable evidence, but the court did not consider them.”
 
    NGO Jamiat-ul-Ulama, which has given Mozawala free legal aid, said it will appeal in the Bombay high court.  The police claimed to have seized during their probe photocopies of 42 pages with telephone and code numbers, eight pages of instructions on how to conduct secret operations and how Islamic groups exchange messages, coloured photographs of 21 defence establishments, bridges, dams and topographies of surrounding areas, 13 visa application forms for the Pakistan high commission, and 15 Indian passports. The chargesheet was filed in March 2011. The court examined 27 witnesses, including two employees of the ministry of external affairs, Mozawala’s family members, and police officers. Seven witnesses turned hostile.
    “We had a lot of supporting evidence… and witnesses’ statements proved conclu
sive,” said additional commissioner of police (crime branch) Niket Kaushik. 

    Picking holes in the investigation, Mozawala’s lawyer had earlier said that though the police claimed that Mozawala was a frequent visitor to the Pakistani high commission in New Delhi and met a Pakistani diplomat called Bhatti, witnesses in the case could not point out the ‘Bhatti’ the police were referring to. Khan said the ministry of external affairs had confirmed in a letter that there was no one at the high commission who went by the name Jamal Bhatti.

 
IN THE SERVICE OF SECRETS EVIDENCE
    
Photocopies of 42 pages with telephone and code numbers, and eight pages of instructions on secret operations and message exchange among Islamic groups
    Coloured photographs of 21 defence establishments, bridges, dams and maps of surrounding areas
    13 visa application forms for the Pakistani high commission
    15 Indian passports Police claimed the numbers were EPABX (electronic private automatic branch exchange) numbers, which are confidential. They said Mozawala passed on the information to one Bhatti in the Pakistani high commission in New Delhi
 
 
CHARGES Filed under Official Secrets Act  
Section 3 (1) (C) | Among other things, a person can be sentenced up to 14 years in prison if he/she collects, records, publishes or communicates any secret official code, password, sketch, plan, model, or document useful to an enemy of the nation
 
Section 4 | Communication with foreign agents is evidence of commission of certain offences
 
Section 9 | Attempting to commit or abetting an offence under the Official Secrets Act invites same punishment as committing the offence The accused was in contact with persons in the Pakistan embassy (sic) named Jamal Bhatti and Abdul Latif Bhatti, who were from Pakistan. (This) shall be relevant for the purpose of proving that he has for the purpose prejudicial to the safety or interest of the state obtained information which is directly useful to an enemy
 
Judge Vrushali Joshi |
 
CITY CIVIL AND SESSIONS COURT PUNISHMENT
    7 years’ rigorous imprisonment under section 3 (1) (C) of the Official Secrets Act

7 years’ rigorous imprisonment under section 9
Sentences to run concurrently

 
WHAT NEXT Mozawala will file an appeal against the order in the Bombay high court My son is innocent. He has two little girls. He was illegally detained for two days before he was shown arrested. He has been falsely implicated in the case and the evidence was planted
Kulsum Bi | MOZAWALA’S MOTHER

In October 2010, the police tap Mozawala’s cellphone after a tip-off and zero in on contact numbers of Pakistani nationals


They track his movements for three months and find him visiting the Pakistani high commission in New Delhi


They raid his Mazgaon flat on the night of December 9, 2010, seize incriminating documents and pick him up


CONVICT Javed Mozawala (32) Arrested on December 9, 2010 for spying Arts graduate, holds a diploma in air ticketing
Was working as passport and visa agent at the time of arrest
Stayed in Mazgaon (East) with wife, son, mother and elder brother


The Times of India, July 16, 2013

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