The proceedings of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act tribunal was adjourned on Thursday, after discussions on the report of the then DIG (Jails) Amit Vishwakarma in the 2013 Sabarmati Jailbreak bid case. The tribunal, headed by sitting judge of Delhi HC Suresh Kait, was on a two-day visit to Gujarat to conduct the hearing on extending Centre’s ban on the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI).
In February 2013, the authorities at the Sabarmati Jail here found a 213-ft-long tunnel, allegedly dug by the accused in the 2008 Ahmedabad blasts case, who are also accused of being SIMI members.
Appearing on behalf of SIMI, Advocate Ashok Agarwal questioned the police inspector of Ahmedabad City Detection of Crime Branch (DCB), H A Rathod, about the alleged connivance of some of the prison officials in the escape conspiracy, but Rathod said, “I am not aware”.
When asked whether he was aware that some of the jail officials had been suspended, he said, “I do not remember, at the time I lodged the FIR, whether I knew (if) some jail officials and staff had been suspended.” About the findings of the committee headed by Vishwakarma, which conducted independent inquiry, Rathod said he was not aware of the report, so he did not obtain its copy during his probe.
The police officer denied that he deliberately omitted from the FIR the names of prison officials whom the report blames for the laxity/complicity. When Agrawal suggested that without the complicity of the jail staff it was impossible to dig a tunnel and to dispose of 1,633.8 cubic feet of soil, Rathod said, “It is incorrect”. To the defence lawyer’s claim that the (failed) escape attempt had nothing to do with SIMI, Rathod denied, and sought to produce a confession of one of the accused.
Accordingly, the accused had planned to meet up in Pavagadh area after the escape and use an email-ID with the words Al-Munafiq to communicate. But this statement is not a part of chargesheet, and Rathod produced a Gujarati version. The tribunal said it would decide later whether to take it on record.
Later, the issue of confessional statements of the accused in the case, which are not on record of the tribunal, crop-ped up. And, subsequently, Mehra sought permission of the tribunal to put the confessional statements before it. The tribunal granted the permission and adjourned the proceedings while asking the Union government to submit additional documents within one week.