14 years after arrest,case of Tihar’s Pak inmate splits SChttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/14-years-after-arrest-case-of-tihars-pak-inmate-splits-sc/

14 years after arrest,case of Tihar’s Pak inmate splits SC

Sentenced to death in 1997 Delhi blast case,Mohd Hussain claims he was student on a visit.

Mohammad Hussain,a Pakistan national sentenced to death for his alleged role in the 1997 Delhi blast case,came to the city with a delegation of 25 students from his country when the incident took place,his counsel said.

Hussain,who was 21 years old at the time of his arrest,has been in prison for 14 years.

He was arrested by the Inter State Cell of the Crime Branch after a blast in a Blueline bus killed four persons and injured 24 on December 30,1997.

Hussain was picked up on February 2,1998.

On January 11,a division bench of the Supreme Court gave a split verdict on Hussain’s appeal against the conviction and death sentence.

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While Justice H L Dattu said a fresh trial should be conducted as the witnesses were not cross-examined by the accused,Justice C K Prasad did not hold the same view. The matter has been referred to the Chief Justice.

Police maintain that Hussain’s arrest helped them get to the bottom of 32 serial blasts that took place in Delhi then. The blasts were carried out at the behest of Pakistan’s ISI and Hussain had been chosen by Abdul Karim Tunda of the Lashkar-e-Toiba,police said.

According to police,Hussain was arrested from a house in Lajpat Nagar where he had been hiding. Three others arrested with Hussain were acquitted.

Mobin Akhtar,Hussain’s counsel,has a different account. “I met him in jail. He told me he had come to Delhi as part of a student delegation on a four-city tour. From Delhi,he went to Agra and from there to Jaipur with one of his friends without informing officials. He told me he was in Jaipur when he was picked up by police. He was later paraded as a suspect in the bomb blast case,” he said.

Currently lodged in Tihar Jail,Hussain told his lawyer he was a first-year college student at the time of his arrest.

“He said he is from Pakistan Punjab and has two siblings. In all these years,he has had contact with his family only once. That was when he received a letter from his brother,” Akhtar said.

“He told me he came to Delhi in January 1998. That was after the blast. His passport was never found on him nor were other documents handed to him. He said he was detained by police and kept in custody for quite some time,” Akhtar said.

The police,however,maintain that it was Hussain who placed a bag containing explosives below a seat reserved for women on the bus. “While he purchased a ticket for Nangloi,he got down at Karol Bagh and,minutes later,the bomb exploded,” the police chargesheet said.

Police presented 65 witnesses. Only the bus conductor identified Hussain.