ON SEPTEMBER 14, three men accused of being SIMI activists and charged in terror cases were acquitted by a Hyderabad court. One of them was Vinod Kumar Sahu, a petty criminal accused of supplying three small arms to main suspect Viqaruddin Ahmed.
Sahu was arrested on the late confession of Viqaruddin, since deceased. Sahu comes from a very poor family of Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh. His lawyer said both his parents worked as labourers, and his father Gajju died two years ago, four years after he had been arrested. “The family is so poor they did not have any money for tickets to come to Hyderabad to visit Vinod. In all the years he has been in jail, his father only visited twice, after raising money through donations,” Sahu’s lawyer Mohammed Muzaffarullah Khan said.
Viqaruddin was arrested on July 9, 2010, for two separate attacks on policemen, killing two. Based on pamphlets he left behind at the scene of the crime, and his statements before them, officials said he wanted to avenge the post-Godhra riots in Gujarat as well as the bombing at Mecca Masjid, and targeted policemen for opening fire at protesters after the mosque blast. Viqaruddin allegedly confessed he had bought the revolvers used in the attacks from Sahu.
Sahu, 40, then fled from Hyderabad to Jhansi, and was subsequently arrested by the special police task force, Octopus, in November 2010 from there. He was charged with being a member of Viqaruddin’s Tahreek Galba-e-Islam organisation.
In April 2015, Viqaruddin and five other men charged in the case were shot dead by Telangana Police allegedly while trying to flee custody. Sahu and the two others have been cleared in the case now.
Sahu’s mother Samantrabai is 80 and lives with his brothers Badri, Komal and three sisters Kusumabai, Anitha, and Suman, at Jhansi. The brothers do odd jobs to sustain the large family.
Sahu, who has studied till Class III, joined petty criminal gangs at an early age and used to frequently visit Hyderabad, Vadodara and Nagpur. In 2000, while in Hyderabad, he allegedly came in touch with persons looking for firearms and ammunition, and started delivering the same through contacts in Jhansi.
“In 2003, a man named Imran approached Sahu with a request for one countrymade revolver and 20 bullets,” a source in Octopus said, adding that Sahu had identified Viqaruddin in custody as the man who had collected the gun and ammo from him for Rs 10,000.
Sahu, who had been arrested in 2001 by the Hyderabad police for supplying country-made small arms to robbers and dacoits, reportedly also came in touch with some of Viqaruddin’s associates while at Musheerabad jail.
Sahu’s advocate says Sahu and Viqaruddin hardly knew each other, nor was Sahu aware that the guns he was selling were to be used in alleged terrorist and anti-national activites.
In his statement before senior officers of Counter Intelligence Cell Police Station, Hyderabad, Sahu said he had sold only one countrymade revolver to Viqaruddin.
He confessed to committing three robberies in Hyderabad but denied involvement in any anti-national activities or that he was a member of Viqaruddin’s organisation.