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Delhi blasts: College alibi, call records, how case fell apart

The judgment said the university had furnished records when they were sought for the first time in 2006 — even before charges were framed.

Written by Anindya Thakuria | New Delhi | February 18, 2017 5:55:24 am
delhi blast accused, 2005 delhi serial blasts, Mohd Hussain Fazli, Mohd Rafiq Shah, 2005 delhi blasts, delhi blast arrest, delhi high court, indian express news, india news Hussain Fazli’s father in Srinagar on Friday. (Express Photo by Shuaib Masoodi)

Mohd Hussain Fazli and Mohd Rafiq Shah, the two men acquitted in the 2005 Delhi serial blasts that claimed 67 lives, left for Kashmir on Friday — after having spent the last 12 years in jail. Acquitting the two men, a trial court had said on Thursday that the prosecution had “miserably failed” to prove their guilt. A closer look at the judgment, passed by Additional Sessions Judge Reetesh Singh, suggests why the court arrived at this conclusion.

According to the court, one of the key things the prosecution failed to prove was that Shah was not in the Valley on October 29, 2005, when he was alleged to have placed a bomb in a DTC bus in Delhi. According to the court, three of his teachers at Kashmir University had testified that he was present on campus that day, and had even attended classes. The university had also produced his attendance records for that day.

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The judgment said the university had furnished records when they were sought for the first time in 2006 — even before charges were framed. But during arguments after the framing of charges, the investigating agency said they could not verify those records due to winter vacations in the college. The court said this claim “appeared to be false”. The court also noted that several passengers on the bus did not have a very clear recollection of what happened that day. The prosecution’s case relied heavily on passengers who claimed to have seen Shah placing a bomb.

“It is manifestly clear that prosecution has been unable to prove that it was Mohd Rafiq Shah who placed the bomb in the DTC bus… On the other hand, plea of alibi raised by (Rafiq) seems probable,” said the court. The court also found that neither Fazli nor Shah were presented before a magistrate in Srinagar a day after they were arrested — as is the practice. Prosecution officers did not dispute this claim. The prosecution had also said that Fazli used a SIM card to talk to an LeT operative. But on closer inspection, it emerged that the SIM card was placed in Fazli’s phone for a very short time — and the only call made was to the mobile operator’s customer care.

“Only conclusion one can draw from the evidence is that the user used the SIM card to either check balance or recharge its balance,” said the court, adding that this could not be considered sufficient evidence. A large part of the evidence against the accused was based on two intercepted calls between a satellite phone used by Abu Al Kama, a Lashkar-e-Taiba operative, and a mobile number in the Valley used by Tariq Ahmed Dar, the third accused convicted of having links with the LeT.

Dar was acquitted of all charges linked to the 2005 bomb blasts. The court held that the conversation Dar had with Kama was not enough to link him to the blasts. The trial court pointed out glaring inconsistencies regarding the testimony of Special DCP Sanjeev Yadav, stating that the officer could “not even remember” whether he had recorded crucial facts regarding Dar’s statement. Additional Sessions Judge Singh, referring to Yadav’s cross examination, said the probe officer was “not even aware” of the companies that Dar had worked for or about the source of his income. The judgment stated that Dar was an MSc degree holder and a qualified medical representative working with Johnson and Johnson when the blast took place.

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