Five years after 23 alleged operatives of the banned terror outfit Indian Mujahideen (IM) were arrested for sending e-mails to media houses prior to serial blasts in Ahmedabad,claiming responsibility for the terror attack,a special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court framed charges in the case Tuesday. Once charges are framed in a case,the court begins the trial.
Among the charges,which run into 16 pages,the accused will face several sections of the Indian Penal Code,the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act,the Information Technology Act and sections of Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act (MCOCA) for waging war against the nation.
The e-mails were sent to create instability in the state of Maharashtra and in India, the charges read.
According to the prosecution,the accused belonged to the IMs media cell and were responsible for sending e-mails claiming responsibility for the terror activities.
The accused include several educated men who were employed with IT companies such as Yahoo and Infosys. They have been booked for involvement in unlawful activities,promoting insurgency and outraging religious sentiments of public. Today,all the accused were present before the court and MCOCA judge A L Pansare read out each of the charges to them, said their lawyer Shahid Nadeem Ansari.
According to the Mumbai Police Crime Branch,which investigated the case,the IM media cell was active from August 2006 and its members had been in constant touch with each other online. The chargesheet has details of e-mails and chat conversations allegedly between the arrested and the accused.
Five wanted accused,including Riyaz and Iqbal Bhatkal,have also been booked for waging war against the country.
A separate trial into the July 26,2008 serial blasts case of Ahmedabad that claimed 56 lives is underway in a court in Gujarat. The Mumbai police had registered a separate case after the e-mails were believed to be sent from the Navi Mumbai area by exploiting the unsecured wi-fi network of a US national Ken Haywood.
The court in Mumbai was scheduled to frame charges in the e-mails case on September 20,when one of the prime accused Afzal Mutalib Usmani (35) gave the slip to the police from the premises of a court,rendering an escort team clueless for over an hour. Only after his arrest last month from the Indo- Nepal border,did the court resume its proceedings.
The special MCOCA court presently operates out of Arthur Road prison.