A local court in Gorakhpur on Monday sentenced suspected Harkat-ul-Jihad Islami (HuJI) operative Tariq Qasmi to life imprisonment in connection with the serial blasts that rocked the city in 2007. Six people were injured in the explosions.
This is the fourth case in which Qasmi, who is in Barabanki district jail at present, has received a life sentence. The Samajwadi Party government led by Akhilesh Yadav had moved a withdrawal application in the court in 2013 to withdraw the Gorakhpur blast case, but it was rejected.
“Additional District and Sessions judge Narendra Kumar Singh on Monday awarded life imprisonment to Qasmi in the serial blast case. In all, 23 prosecution witnesses were examined of whom seven turned hostile,” said government counsel SP Narayan Singh.
Qasmi, who used to be a Unani doctor, is married and has four children. On May 22, 2007, three blasts ripped through Gorakhpur within five minutes. During investigation, the police found the blasts were triggered by extremist outfits Indian Mujahideen (IM) and HuJI.
The UP Police’s Special Task Force arrested Qasmi and another suspected HuJI operative, Khalid Mujahid of Jaunpur, outside the Barabanki railway station on December 20, 2007, and claimed to have seized 1.25 kg RDX, six detonators, three cell phones and two SIM cards from them.
Apart from the Gorakhpur case, the police also booked Khalid and Qasmi in the Lucknow and Faizabad court blast cases. The explosions had occurred on November 23, 2007. Khalid died in 2013 while being brought to Faizabad from the Lucknow district jail.
During its investigation in the Gorakhpur case, the police later unearthed the involvement of suspected IM operatives Salman alias Chottu, Saif and Mirza Shadab Baig. Saif and Salman are in jail at present. The district police attached a property of Baig, a native of Azamgarh’s Sahab Ka Kila locality, after seeking permission from court as he remained absconding.
“The file of Saif and Salman was separated from Tariq because their names came into light late,” said Singh.
Defence counsel Jalalludin Khan, who represented Qasmi, said, “The court government’s plea to withdraw the Gorakhpur blast case was rejected by the court.” Khan said his client would appeal the judgement.