Officials of the district administration faced stiff resistance from the family of terror suspect Mohsin Chaudhary when they went to attach the latter’s house at Manisha Complex in Mitha Nagar area of Kondhwa on Thursday. The family claimed that they were being targeted and that they were not given any prior notice about the attachment order issued by a special court of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in New Delhi. The officials, however, managed to seal the property after five hours.
Mohsin, an alleged Indian Mujahideen operative, is wanted in many terror cases, including the German Bakery blast of February 2010. He has been missing since 2008. His brother Akbar Choudhary, also alleged to be an IM operative, was arrested in 2008.
Mohsin’s wife, two schoolgoing children, parents and two brothers were living in the house. The family said they were “shattered” by the sudden action that rendered them homeless.
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The family members said they came to know about the order only on Wednesday evening when some government officials came to their house, asking them to look for a new place as they would be attaching this apartment on Thursday as per the NIA court’s order.
After the special NIA court passed the attachment order on March 6, the NIA apparently handed over a letter to the district collectorate on March 11, requesting the officials to attach Mohsin’s property. However, the action was initiated only after top NIA officers reminded the district collector about it around four days ago. The NIA is supposed to submit a compliance report to the court on March 29. So, it was necessary to take the “sudden” action, said the district administration.
Accordingly, the district collectorate sent a letter to the office of tehsildar (Haveli) on March 25, asking it to take action as per the special court’s order. On March 26, the tehsildar forwarded the letter to circle officer (Khed Shivapur).
A team of the circle officer then went to Mohsin’s house on March 26 and told them that they would be attaching the house on March 27. Asked why action was not initiated immediately, Resident District Collector Suresh Jadhav said: “We are too busy with election work.”
Circle Officer Shekhar Shinde, talathis Deepak Chachar and Milind Sethi and other officials reached Mohsin’s house around 11 am with police personnel on Thursday. “As the issue was sensitive, two inspectors, one woman sub-inspector, three woman police constables and three policemen were deployed at the spot,” said Senior Inspector Pandharinath Mandhare of Kondhwa police station.
The family refused to vacate the house. Mohsin’s wife Nasreen even tried to pour kerosene on herself to ward off the action. In the mean time, the family also sought some time from the officials and moved an application before the special NIA court in Delhi through lawyer M S Khan, arguing that the property is not liable for attachment since Nasreen is joint owner of the house. However, since the court could not hear the application on Thursday, the officials asked Mohsin’s wife and other family members to cooperate. The family then left after shifting some of their belongings to a neighbour’s house. The circle officer then sealed the house around 4 pm.
“Asking the family to leave the house is gross violation of human rights. Mohsin is not the only owner of the property. It was jointly purchased by Nasreen. The joint owner is paying the installments for home loan taken from Ratnakar Bank. So, we prayed to the court not to attach the property and if attached, it may kindly be restored to the applicant (Nasreen). But the application was not heard today,” said advocate Khan.
The officials claimed that the family might have failed to represent themselves before the court passed the order for attachment of property.
Activist Azar Tamboli said: “Legal ignorance may be to blame, but asking the family, including children and senior citizens, to leave home all of a sudden is harassment. They are innocent. If they had got some time, they would have explained their side to the court or made some arrangements for themselves.”
Nasreen said: “I poured kerosene on myself out of frustration. It all happened all of a sudden. Without any notice, we have been made to leave our house. I have two sons; one is in Class V and the other is in Class III. They have their annual exams on Monday. And we are left homeless.”
A family member added: “We had taken a bank loan for this house. Even after Mohsin went missing, we are paying the installments as we do not have any other place to say. Rs 1.5 lakh is still remaining to be paid. We are working hard to make a living and pay loan installments for this house, which has now been sealed.”