A Ghaziabad court hearing the 2006 Varanasi bombings case on Wednesday reserved its order on a petition moved by an accused — alleged HuJI operative Waliullah — who, through his counsel, claimed innocence on grounds of a “confessional statement” made by alleged Indian Mujahideen (IM) member Asadullah Akhtar alias Haddi before a court in Hyderabad in 2013.
In the statement, a copy of which is with The Indian Express, Akhtar allegedly confessed to having executed the serial blasts with the help of other IM associates. Referring to the statement, Waliullah’s counsel prayed before the court through the petition that his client be declared innocent.
The state Special Task Force (STF) had arrested Waliullah, who was the imam of a mosque in Allahabad, from Lucknow on April 5, 2006, claiming that he was the mastermind behind the blasts. Investigators had also claimed that the bombs were planted by three men who had come from Bangladesh, with whom Waliullah had studied at Deoband.
The trial in the case was transferred from Varanasi to a Ghaziabad court after a group of lawyers had attacked Waliullah on May 3, 2006. Waliullah has been lodged in Ghaziabad’s Dasna jail since after his arrest.
“Waliullah’s lawyer had moved an application before the court of district and sessions judge Girjesh Kumar Pandey, praying to summon a certified copy of the confessional statement of Asadullah Akhtar and also to examine the judicial officer who recorded the statement,” said District Government Counsel (DGC), Ghaziabad, Suresh Yadav, adding that the trial in the Varanasi blasts case is in its final stage.
He added, “On Wednesday, argument took place on the petition and prosecution opposed it. The court has fixed April 9 for the next hearing.”
A native of Azamgarh district, Asadullah Akhtar alias Haddi alias Tabrez alias Daniyal was arrested on August 29, 2013, along with alleged IM co-founder Yasin Bhatkal from the Indo-Nepal border in Bihar. Asadullah’s statement was recorded in connection with twin blasts that occurred at Dilsukhnagar in Hyderabad on February 21, 2013, in which 18 people died and 131 others were injured.
In December 2016, a special NIA court in Hyderabad had sentenced to death to five IM operatives including Asadullah and Bhatkal in the same blasts case. Asadullah is presently lodged at Tihar jail in New Delhi.
“I moved a petition before the Ghaziabad court on March 6 praying to summon the certified copy of Asadullah Akhtar’s confessional statement recorded in the court of V Satyanarayana, Metropolitan Magistrate, Cyberabad, Kukatpally at Miyapur in Hyderabad on October 18, 2013. I also prayed to examine the judicial officer who recorded the statement. I further prayed to take the statement on record,” said Waliullah’s lawyer Aarif Ali.
He further said, “Along with the application, I also submitted photocopies of Asadullah Akhtar’s confessional statement recorded under 164 CrPC. In his confessional statement recorded in-camera, Asadullah Akhtar, admits that he along with Mirza Shadab Baig, Mohammad Sarvar, Ariz, Atif and Saif planted three bombs at Sankatmochan temple, Railway Station and a ghat.”
While Atif was killed in the 2008 Batla House encounter, Mirza Shadab Baig is presently on the run while other accused named in Akhtar’s statement are lodged in different jails in the country. All of them belong to Azamgarh district.
What happened on March 7, 2006?
21 people were killed in the twin blasts that took place at Sankatmochan temple and Varanasi Cantonment Railway Station on March 7, 2006. A third bomb found in Godaulia did not explode. All bombs were made by packing explosives in pressure cookers. The police had then claimed that the blasts were executed by HuJI men.