Retired Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Bhanupratap Barge, who was the investigating officer (IO) of the 2014 Faraskhana bomb blast case, said the allegations regarding investigation into the case made by former Inspector General of Police S M Mushrif in his book were “baseless”.
Barge, who retired on July 31, was among the police officers who submitted affidavits before the tribunal constituted by the government to adjudicate ban on Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), a terror outfit first banned in 2001. Barge had submitted details of the Faraskhana bomb blast, which was allegedly executed by SIMI operatives. Five persons were injured in the blast on July 10, 2014.
The tribunal, headed by Justice Mukta Gupta, recently upheld the decision of government to extend ban on SIMI, under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), for next five years.
Pune-based Anjum Inamdar of the Muslim Mulnivasi Manch had submitted Mushrif’s book Brahminists Bombed, Muslims Hanged before the tribunal and referring to information in it, he had raised doubts about the probe into the German Bakery blast of 2010 and Faraskhana blast of 2014 in Pune.
Mushrif’s book, taken on record by the tribunal, was on Tuesday released during a programme in Pune. One of the chapters in the book is on “Faraskhana (Dagdusheth Ganapati) bomb blast 2014”, in which Mushrif called one “Shivraj Kulkarni” as “main suspect” in the case. In his speech on Tuesday, Mushrif alleged that investigators did not analyse three mobile phones and movements of Kulkarni. Mushrif has also raised doubts about the CCTV footage gathered by investigators as evidence against the SIMI operatives and sought re-investigation.
Calling the allegations “baseless”, Barge, who was attached to ATS while investigating the case, said, “Faraskhana bomb blast case was probed scientifically and professionally. No innocents were blamed. Technical evidence, statements of key witnesses, CCTV footage proved beyond doubt that SIMI operatives executed Faraskhana blast. Evidence was submitted before the tribunal, which has upheld extension on ban on SIMI. So, the evidence submitted by us has been considered.”
ATS had named five alleged SIMI operatives who had fled from the Khandhwa jail in Madhya Pradesh in October 2013 as accused in the Faraskhana bomb blast case. Barge said, “Probe revealed that SIMI operatives first attempted terror attack near Faraskhana police station on July 7, 2014. As that attempt failed, they parked a motorcycle laden with explosives around same spot on July 10, when the blast took place. The SIMI operatives then fled to Kolhapur by taking a bus from Swargate. The accused are seen in the CCTV footage of July 7 and July 10 obtained from Faraskhana and Swargate area. We also recorded statement of a co-passenger who travelled with the SIMI operatives in bus and identified them from CCTV images and photographs shown to him …”
“CCTV footage obtained from Bijnor area in UP after a blast there in September 2014 also captured the movements of SIMI operatives who were caught in CCTV footage gathered during Faraskhana blast probe. Three SIM cards in the name of one Shivaji Kulkarni (63) of Dharwad were obtained during Bijnor blast probe. Statements of Kulkarni and the SIM card vendor were recorded… Probe revealed that three SIMI operatives — Mohammed Ajajuddin, Zakir Hussain and Shaikh Mehboob alias Guddu — rented a room in Kulkarni’s bungalow in Dharwad in January 2014 by identifying themselves as Arvind, Anand and Kisan, respectively. They misused photocopies of Kulkarni’s voter ID card and electricity bill kept in the bunglow and procured SIM cards in his name. Kulkarni was not found involved in the terror act… We also recorded statements of three students staying on rent in neighbouring room in Kulkarni’s bungalow. All three identified the SIMI operatives as Arvind, Anand and Kisan from CCTV images and photographs,” Barge added.
All five accused were killed in separate encounters with police at Nalgonda in Telangana in April 2015 and in Madhya Pradesh on October 31, 2016. In June 2017, the ATS closed probe in the case by submitting a final report before a court in Pune.