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4 years after arrest in IISc attack case, Tripura man freed; no proof he helped key accused, says court

Habeeb Miya, who was arrested in March 2017, was alleged to have helped a key accused, Sabauddin Ahmed, cross over to Bangladesh, both before and after the attack. Ahmed was picked up from Nepal in early 2008.

Written by Johnson T A | Bengaluru |
Updated: June 22, 2021 7:06:52 am
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FOUR YEARS after he was arrested from Agartala for his alleged involvement in aiding a terrorist attack at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bengaluru in 2005, Habeeb Miya, 40, a driver, was released last week after the NIA Special Court said police had failed to establish a prima facie case against him.

A visiting professor from Delhi, M C Puri, had died in the IISc attack on December 28, 2005.

Habeeb Miya, who was arrested in March 2017, was alleged to have helped a key accused, Sabauddin Ahmed, cross over to Bangladesh, both before and after the attack. Ahmed was picked up from Nepal in early 2008.

Allowing a discharge plea filed by Habeeb Miya ahead of the framing of charges, the NIA Special Court, in its June 14 order, referred to Ahmed’s statement that Habeeb Miya had helped him to cross the border.

From a careful perusal of “the entire statement of accused No.1 (Sabauddin Ahmed), it is seen that except for these averments, there is nothing to indicate that accused No.7 (Habeeb Miya) had knowledge that accused No.1 is a terrorist or he is receiving funds from terrorists, and that he has planned to commit terrorist acts in Bengaluru,” said the court.

“The statement of accused No.1 discloses that accused No.1 has not even disclosed his real name before accused No.7, nor stated as to why he is going to Bangladesh,” it said.

The court said police had not brought any evidence to show that Habeeb Miya had any knowledge that Ahmed, who approached him using a fake identity, “is a Lashkar-e-Taiba member and receiving arms and ammunition in order to commit terrorist acts”.

“I find that there was nothing in the statement of accused No.1 to implicate accused No.7 in the crime. It is seen that after accused No.7 was arrested and his statement was also recorded, there is no further evidence collected to prove the involvement of accused No.7 in the crime,” said Special Judge Dr Kasanappa Naik.

No effort was made to track two others in Agartala who are reported to have helped Ahmed cross the border after the IISc attack, the court said.

“There is no independent evidence to prove that accused No.7 assisted accused No.1 to do any criminal and unlawful acts. If at all, the accused No.7 had assisted accused No.1 in crossing the border to go to Bangladesh illegally, it is for the concerned police at Tripura to prosecute him in this regard and he cannot be prosecuted in this case,” the court said.

While the IISc case remained unsolved for nearly three years, it was eventually cracked after the arrest of Ahmed, originally from Darbhanga in Bihar. Ahmed is alleged to have harbored Abu Hamza, the attacker, in a room near his college in Bengaluru. Abu Hamza is alleged to have escaped to Pakistan.

According to Ahmed’s statement to the police, in May 2005. he was asked by his Pakistan-based LeT handler Abdul Aziz alias Wali alias Rehan to travel to Bangladesh to finalise the details of a terror attack in Bengaluru.

Ahmed found that Agartala was one of the closest points for entry into Bangladesh, so he travelled to Tripura. He claims to have met Habeeb Miya at a mosque in Agartala, and sought his help in travelling to Bangladesh to meet Abdul Aziz.

“He told me that his maternal family was staying in Bangladesh, in Comilla. He also told me that he visits Bangladesh without a passport. I expressed my desire to go to Bangladesh as a visitor. He agreed and it was not a problem to cross the border,” Ahmed told the police.

According to his statement, Ahmed told Habeeb Miya that he had to go to Dhaka to meet an uncle. Following his meeting with Abdul Aziz in Dhaka, Ahmed was reportedly escorted back to Agartala by Habeeb Miya.

Abu Hamza, a Pakistani terrorist, was then allegedly sent to India, via Nepal, in December 2005 for the IISc attack. Ahmed is alleged to have collected an AK-56 and grenades from Kashmir for the attack.

After the IISc attack, Ahmed, who fled to Bihar, attempted to cross over to Bangladesh via Tripura in February 2006. He sought the help of Habeeb Miya, who reportedly told him that he was out of town and directed him to his nephew, Pappu.

Habeeb Miya’s nephew, in turn, put Ahmed in touch with another resident of Agartala, Saif Ul Islam, who allegedly helped him travel to Dhaka.

In December 2006, when an LeT commander called Muzammil — who took over India operations from Abdul Aziz — directed Ahmed to travel to Kathmandu via Bangladesh, Ahmed allegedly sought Habeeb Miya’s help again.

“I called Habeeb and he came to Comilla (in Bangladesh) to meet me,” he told the police. But Habeeb Miya refused to help Ahmed, claiming that security had been tightened, according to the statement.

During the hearing, Habeeb Miya’s counsel, Mohammed Tahrir, told the court that the case against his client was an abuse of the process of law.

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