After spending three months in custody, Irfan Qureshi, an accused in the 2002 Ghatkopar blast, has been discharged. A special court on Tuesday ordered his release after the Mumbai Police Crime Branch submitted there was insufficient evidence against him.
“On consideration of the report with the submission and the material, as it appears that there is no sufficient evidence to prosecute further, the accused Irfan Ahmed Gulam Ahmed Qureshi is hereby discharged and released forthwith…,” Special Judge S M Bhosle said.
Qureshi was picked up by the Gujarat Anti-Terrorism Squad from Aurangabad and handed over to the Mumbai Police Crime Branch on May 7. The police had claimed Qureshi was one of the 10 absconding accused in the Ghatkopar blast, which took place on December 2, 2002, killing two and injuring 49.
In its report submitted before the court on Tuesday, the Mumbai Police said there was not enough evidence to file a chargesheet against Qureshi. The police said Qureshi was interrogated on various aspects, including his whereabouts from 2002 till his arrest in 2018.
The report states that Qureshi, an engineering graduate and an MBA in marketing management, used to work at a firm in Aurangabad. After his mother was diagnosed with cancer, he quit his job. Thereafter, he joined a small company, Pragma Software, as a partner but quit that too in 2002 and left for Muscat, where his brothers were already working. During his remand, the police had claimed Qureshi was a partner at Pragma Software, which they claimed was a front set up by the accused to draw Muslim youths into terror activities.
In its report on Tuesday, the police said while they had sought information on Qureshi’s involvement in any other crime between 2002 and 2018 as well as on his association with SIMI or any other organisation, nothing was found. A laptop seized from Qureshi was sent for forensic analysis but nothing objectionable was found in it. The police went through Qureshi’s travel records between 2002 and 2018, including his over nine visits to the country, but found no proof of any offence. In 2005, while eight accused were acquitted, nine others were discharged for lack of evidence. One of the men arrested from Parbhani, Khwaja Yunus, was allegedly killed in custody in police torture, for which four policemen are currently facing trial.