Among the 19 terror cases whose withdrawal was stayed by the Allahabad High Court last week is the case of a juvenile which is pending before the Juvenile Justice Board of Kanpur. Asif (name changed) is facing trial for his alleged involvement in a bomb blast at Kanpurs Arya Nagar crossing in 2000. Four policemen were injured in the blast.
Before the court order came,the government had instructed the District Magistrate of Kanpur to file an application before the board for withdrawal of the case.
A native of Kanpurs Babupurva locality,Asif was 15 when the blast took place. The police booked him under the Explosives Act and on charges of attempt to murder,sedition,and waging war against the state.
Asif now 27 was absconding when his name cropped up in the police investigation. He was arrested by UPs Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) from Mumbai in February 2011. The police had then said that Asif,who is a web-page designer and owns a shop in Mumbai,is a prized catch for central investigating agencies and ATS units of Mumbai,Delhi and Gujarat. The agency claimed he could provide information about SIMI and Indian Mujahideen operatives.
After his arrest,Asif was brought to Kanpur and produced before court. His lawyer moved an application,claiming he was a minor at the time of crime.
Asifs lawyer Azizul Rehman said the matter was then referred to the juvenile justice board to decide on his juvenility. Three months later,the board declared he was a juvenile at the time of the crime. he said.
Under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act,the maximum punishment that can be given is three years.
The board granted him bail after six months,Rehman added.
A chargesheet was later filed against Asif and the trial began.
The prosecution said Asifs name cropped up during questioning of other accused booked for the blast which occurred on August 14,2000. The bomb was placed in a pressure cooker at Arya Nagar locality under Swaroop Nagar police station area. The SHO of the police station and three police constables who were patrolling the area were injured. A case was lodged against unidentified persons at the Swaroop Nagar police station.
The Kanpur police had claimed that the blast was a joint operation of Hizbul Mujahideen and SIMI men. Ten persons,nine of whom were arrested. One of the alleged Hizbul man,Ali Mohammad,was later killed in a police encounter in Kashmir in 2005. Except Asif,all other accused have since been acquitted by the court,the prosecution said.
The police booked Asif for being part of a conspiracy. There is no direct evidence against him,added Rehman.