Updated: February 13, 2017 12:05:28 am
After setting aside death penalty in the German Bakery blast case, there is yet another relief for alleged terror suspect Mirza Himayat Baig (32). A magistrate court has discharged Baig, along with alleged Indian Mujahideen (IM) operative Maulana Shabbir Hussain Gangawali, in the case registered by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), for allegedly circulating jihadi literature to Muslim youth in Pune, who were alleged members of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI).
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Judicial Magistrate (first class) V B Gulve Patil, Shivajinagar Court, passed on order in this regard on December 22, 2016. It may be recalled that Gangawali, a native of Bhatkal of Karnataka and an alleged aide of IM founders Riyaz and Iqbal Bhatkal, was arrested by the Pune unit of the ATS on December 30, 2008, with possession of 250 counterfeit notes of Rs 100 denomination at a Janawadi mosque in Shivajinagar area.
On September 7, 2010, ATS arrested Baig from Pulgate area of Pune for his alleged involvement in the bakery blast, which claimed 17 lives and injured 64. While the probe in both the cases was on, the ATS arrested Gangawali on June 14, 2010, and Baig on January 27, 2011, under sections of the UAPA for allegedly supplying jihadi literature to the members of banned SIMI outfit in Pune.
ATS had earlier arrested five alleged SIMI members Mehboob of Ghorpadi Peth, Imtiyaz Babymiyan Shaikh (30), Ayaz Khan (25), both from Bhimpura Camp, Mohammed Bilal Kagzi (27) of Surat and Nadim Mohammed Salim Shaikh of Thane in August 2008 in the case.
About 40 books on jihad were seized from the suspects.
ATS had then submitted before the court that while studying in Pune, Baig and Gangawali and another maulana, who is yet to be traced, conducted the religious ‘darj’ meetings of Muslim youth in Pune at a masjid on Solapur Road and some other places. ATS alleged that the duo circulated jihadi literature among Muslim youth and indoctrinated them into jihadi ideology.
However, on December 2, 2016, Inspector Vijay Patil of ATS filed an application seeking their discharge in the case, under Section 169 of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), as “no sufficient evidence or reasonable grounds of suspicions were found to justify forwarding of said accused persons to the court along with chargesheet”.
The court ordered release of Baig and Gangawali in the case, after hearing from assistant public prosecutor and the complainant — Assistant Police Inspector Sastish Gurav, who was then attached to ATS.
Meanwhile, in 2011, Gangawali was convicted and awarded five years’ rigorous imprisonment in fake currency possession case. Later, he was arrested in connection with the serial bomb blasts in Bengaluru in July 2008. Gangawali is currently lodged in a Bengaluru jail.
On April 18, 2013, the sessions court in Pune awarded death sentence to Baig, holding him guilty under Sections 10 (b), 16 (1)(a) of UAPA, section 302, section 120 (b) of IPC and Section 3 of Explosives Substances Act. Baig moved High Court (HC) against the lower court order.
On March 17, 2016, the HC, while setting aside death sentence for Baig, acquitted him from charges under Sections of UAPA, Sections 120 (b), 302 of IPC, Section 3 (b) of the Explosive Substances Act. But the court granted him life term, holding him guilty under Section 5 (b) of the Explosive Substances Act and seven years imprisonment, as charge of Section 474 of IPC was confirmed. Last month, the Maharashtra government moved the Supreme Court (SC) seeking death penalty for Baig in the bakery blast case.
Baig is currently lodged in Nashik Jail. He has written a letter to activist Anjum Inamdar from Pune about a month ago. “Baig has mentioned that he is under fear in Nashik Jail. He was attacked before in Pune and Nagpur jails. Also, Baig said he should be kept in regular barracks and not in the Anda cell,” said Anjum.
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