A special court in Barabanki Friday awarded life imprisonment to alleged Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI) operative Tariq Qasmi for his role in 2007 blasts in Faizabad and Lucknow.
Additional Sessions Judge Shanti Prakash Arvind held Qasmi guilty of sedition, keeping explosives and working against law of the country, prosecuting officer, UP ATS, Pradeep Kumar Srivastava said. The court also imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 on the accused, he added.
Qasmi, an Unani doctor by profession, and another accused Khalid Mujahid, now dead, were arrested with explosives on December 20, 2007 from near Barabanki railway station, around 25 km from Lucknow. Mujahid died on May 18, 2013, while being taken to court in Faizabad.
Both were wanted for their alleged involvement in serial bomb blasts in Faizabad and Lucknow courts on November 23, 2007. While five persons were killed in Faizabad, no one was injured in Lucknow as the explosion could not trigger off and RDX planted on a bicycle was recovered.
Qasmi, a native of Sambhupur village in Azamgarh, is facing three more cases including one for his alleged involvement in a blast in Gorakhpur on May 22, 2007, in which six persons were injured. Trial in these cases are pending in the courts.
Defence lawyer Mohammad Shoaib said they will file challenge the judgement in a higher court.
The Barabanki court’s decision comes exactly two years after Uttar Pradesh government led by Akhilesh Yadav had moved to withdraw cases against Qasmi and Mujahid. The state government had on April 24, 2013 directed the District Magistrate of Gorakhpur to file an application in court for withdrawal of the case.
It was the first terror case that the Akhilesh Yadav government had decided to withdraw in line with the party’s election promise to withdraw terror cases against “innocent” youths. However, on May 8, a Barabanki court had rejected the plea saying that the government had filed faulty and incomplete papers. The government had then moved the high court, which rejected the appeal and later stayed the move to withdraw cases against other terror accused.
Thirty-seven-year-old Qasmi, who reportedly has degree of Bachelor of Unani Medicines & Surgery (BUMS), used to run a clinic at Rani Ki Sarai locality in Azamgarh before UP STF arrested him along with co-accused Mujahid with RDX, detonators, gelatin rods and cellphones in Barabanki. Mujahid was a resident of Jaunpur district.
Raising questions on the duo’s arrest, their families had alleged both were picked from their native places. They claimed to have faxed complaints to the offices of Prime Minister, UP CM and National Human Rights Commission even before the STF declared their arrest.
The Mayawati government had set up R D Nimesh Commission on March 14, 2008 to probe the matter. The commission, it is report, referred police claim about the date, place and timing of the arrests as “doubtful”. The state government had tabled the report in the Assembly without any action taken report.