Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Charges framed against 23 IM members accused in ’08 blasts

Kenneth Heywood

Shibu Thomas and Mateen Hafeez TNN

    Five years after 23 alleged members of the Indian Mujahideen were arrested for sending emails before and after bomb blasts in Delhi and Ahmedabad in 2008, a special court on Tuesday framed charges in the cases. The 23 accused, along with five absconding accused, including IM leaders Riyaz Bhatkal and Iqbal Bhatkal, were charged with waging war against the country, involvement in conspiracy to cause blasts in Delhi, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, and Surat, being members of a banned organization, carrying out unlawful activities of an organized crime syndicate, hacking into Wi-Fi networks to send terror emails and illegally possessing and hiding arms and explosives.
    Special MCOCA judge A L Pansare framed the charges and explained the 29 counts on which the accused were charged. All the accused pleaded not guilty and sought to be tried. The court has scheduled the next date of hearing for pre-trial proceedings on December 23. On that date, the prosecution is likely to furnish the list of witnesses it is planning to call to testify against the 23 accused.
    “With the framing of the chargesheet, the investigation in the case is complete and the trial will now commence,” said special public prosecutor Raja Thakre.
    The blasts—in Ahmedabad on July 26, 2008, and in Delhi on September 13, 2008—had left 82 dead and over 300 injured. In Surat, unexploded bombs were found. The emails, purportedly by the Indian Mujahideen owning responsibility for the blasts, were sent from Mumbai. According to the ATS, the accused had hacked into Wi-Fi networks of Khalsa College, Kamran Power Control in Chembur and US citizen Kenneth Heywood in Sanpada to send the terror emails
    In a related development, the Bombay high court has asked the state as to whether or not it had initiated any action against police officers in connection with the escape of suspected IM member Afzal Usmani when he was produced in acourt. The high court has given the state two weeks to inform if any case was registered against the cops escorting Usmani from Taloja jail to the special court. Usmani, who had given the cops the slip in September, was caught by the state ATS on October 27, 2013, while he was trying to flee to Nepal. It was Usmani’s arrest in September 2008—he was arrested for stealing cars—which led the police to the 22 others in the case. Usmani had been charged with stealing cars for the terror strikes and sending the terror emails.  
Sep 13, 2008 At 6.15 pm (five blasts)
    Email sent at 6.27 pm on the same day. Sent from Eric
House, Chembur, after hacking into the unsecured Wi-Fi network of a private firm, M/s Kamran Power Control
    Mail talks about the country-wide crackdown on IM/Simi members over previous blasts and the alleged oppression of Muslims

TOLL 26 dead
100 injured
    Email sent at 6.41 pm on the same day. Sent from Gunina apartments, Sanpada, Navi Mumbai, after
hacking the unsecured Wi-Fi network of US national Kenneth Heywood
    The 14-page email warned that revenge for post-Godhra Gujarat riots will take place in 5 minutes. Demanded release of prisoners and asked Muslims to stop acting in Bollywood, among other things

TOLL 56 dead scores injured
EMAIL AFTER AHMEDABAD BLASTS Sent on August 23, 2008, at 7 pm. Sent from Khalsa College, King’s Circle, after the suspects hacked into the Wi-Fi network of the college’s computer lab
The mail contained photos of the Ahmedabad car-bombs captioned ‘Our favourite toys’ and ‘The cars that devastated’. Contained death threats to officers of Gujarat and Maharashtra ATS (including the then ATS chief Hemant Karkare)

THE ACCUSED 21 people were charge-sheeted in the cases in Maharashtra
Of these, five are still wanted:
Riyaz Bhatkal — the suspected co-founder of IM
Iqbal Bhaktal — elder brother of Riyaz
Amri Raza Khan, Abu Rasheed, Akbar Faizi Khalidi alias Yeda

THE CHARGES Waging war against the country, creating instability, causing communal disharmony; collecting arms & explosives; hacking into unsecured Wi-Fi Internet networks of Khalsa College, Kamran Power
citizen Kenneth Heywood to send terror emails; transporting vehicles for planting bombs; forging vehicle number plates

MOHAMMED SADIQ SHAIKH A Trombay resident, he was arrested on charges of helping to send the terror emails on the Ahmedabad blasts. He was the most feared person among the accused, after the Bhatkal brothers. Shaikh, who now has a five-year-old son, worked as an electrician in a reputed company. He had said that his group was behind the 11/7 train blasts, not the people currently facing trial. But the ATS gave his group a clean chit in the case

AFZAL USMANI The Govandi resident was a car thief, and was tasked with stealing eight cars from Navi Mumbai. He stole four cars, which were then taken to Surat and Ahmedabad and planted with explosives. He stayed with his wife and the families of his brothers in Govandi. He came to
    Mumbai from
Azamgarh (UP) and used to work odd jobs before becoming a fulltime car thief 
The Times of India, December 11, 2013

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