Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Investigators examine jail stay data to trace terror suspect

Afzal Usmani

Afzal Usmani Had Made 36 Calls To His Family & Friends


Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: Data available about escaped terror suspect Afzal Usmani’s jail stay has revealed that he was escorted to various courts, hospitals and cities 100 times during the 20 months he spent in Navi Mumbai’s Taloja prison. Usmani had, during these visits, made 36 calls to his home and friends, who are all under police supervision now.
    Investigators are going through this data to trace Usmani.
    A suspected planter in the 2008 Ahmedabad serial explosions, Usmani dodged the police escort on the Mumbai Sessions Court premises on September 20 and escaped. After his escape began a series of inquiries. The state ATS, which has conducted an inquiry into the security lapse and Usmani’s movements during his visits outside jail, found that Usmani was lodged in Taloja prison in January 2012. “From this period till his escape, he was taken to Ahmedabad court, Surat court, Sewree fast-track court, Mumbai’s MCOCA court, JJ Hospital, Nair Hospital, and St. Geroge’s Hospital. There were 100 visits in all. As his family did not stay in Mumbai, he would take permission from court to make phone calls to his relatives,” said an ATS officer.
    Records available with ATS and scrutiny of phone numbers which Usmani called revealed that he made calls to his wife, mother, brothers and a few friends. “The court orders clearly said that he should not be given more than five minutes to speak with his relatives from an STD phone booth. The court had also instructed that some cop should monitor Usmani’s conversations. He made the last call to his wife and mother on September 9, eleven days before his escape,” said the officer.
    The phone numbers Usmani called are under surveillance. “Usmani has left Maharashtra by now,” said an officer from a security agency.
    Senior police officials said that the court should not sanction requests of such suspects for making phone calls. “There are facilities available in Taloja jail for making phone calls to one’s relatives. The phones are taped and an accused is captured on CCTV camera. This method is safer than allowing an accused to use an STD booth,” said the source.

The Times of India, October 16, 2013

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