Thursday, Oct 23, 2014

Swami’s testimony frees terror accused after seven years in jail

Nasir was picked up from Uttarakhand ashram, Shivanand told the court Nasir was picked up from Uttarakhand ashram, Shivanand told the court
Written by Manish Sahu | Lucknow | Posted: March 23, 2014 2:44 am

32-year-old Nasir Hussain had spent nearly seven years in jail after the UP Police accused him of sedition and planning terror attacks. He walked free this week — after a 71-year-old Hindu spiritual leader testified in court that Nasir had been abducted from his ashram in Uttarakhand days before the police recorded his “arrest”.

Nasir’s family in Bijnore expressed their gratitude for Swami Shivanand. The government’s lawyer conceded that the swami’s testimony had been vital. The court noted the fact that the swami had travelled from his ashram entirely at his own expense for the case.

The UP Special Task Force had claimed to have arrested Nasir alias Masoom alias Chhotu from a Lucknow hotel in June 2007. They had accused him of being a HuJI operative, claimed he had explosives on him, and alleged that he had intended to trigger terrorist explosions.

Swami Shivanand, head of an ashram at Muni Ki Reti town in Uttarakhand’s Tehri Garhwal district, was named as a witness for the defence. After being summoned by the special court in Lucknow jail, the swami travelled to Lucknow in June 2013.

As per the court’s order, Shivanand testified that Nasir had been snatched from his ashram by some men in plain clothes between 5 am and 7 am on June 19, 2007. Nasir had been working on the premises, where a building was being constructed.

The inmates of the ashram had run to get help, but had been unable to prevent the men from taking Nasir away, Shivanand said. He told the court that an attempt had been made to file a complaint at the local Muni police station, but the police had refused to register a case.

In the chargesheet, the police had shown Nasir to have been arrested from a Lucknow hotel on June 21 — three days after he, according to the swami, was picked up in Uttarakhand. The police claimed he was a trained militant who planned to bomb a Haridwar-bound train in pilgrims for the Kaveri Mela would have been travelling. The police claimed Nasir had confessed to have trained at a HuJI camp in Pakistan in 2005.

In its order, the court said Swami Shivanand’s statement was most reliable while prosecution witnesses appeared to be unreliable. The court observed that Shivanand was a 71-year-old old man who had spent from his pocket to travel to Lucknow, and had tried to prove that the accused had been staying at his ashram from before June 19, 2007. The court also mentioned that the prosecution’s detailed cross-examination had failed to dent the swami’s version.

Referring to Shivanand’s statement and the police’s claim, the court observed that whenever two possibilities arise, the benefit of doubt must go to the accused. On Thursday, the judge acquitted Nasir Hussain of all charges. Nasir was released the same evening, and he continued…

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