The National Investigative Agency (NIA) on Monday submitted a 164-page charge sheet in the Burdwan Blast case against 21 accused persons, including four Bangladeshi nationals in a Special court in Kolkata and booked the accused persons under various provisions of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) APA that deals with terror acts, arms act, explosives act and foreigner’s act .
While 56 pages of the charge sheet dealt with the crime and the terror networks, the rest were annexures, including a large number of judicial confessions under section 164 CrPC.
The charge sheet was submitted on the 177th day – just three days ahead of the mandatory 180 days within which it was to be given.
The charge sheet accused the arrested persons for criminal conspiracy under the banner of Jammat –ul –Mujahidden ( Bangladesh ) – a proscribed terror organization with its networks set up in the border districts of West Bengal, Assam and Jharkhand.
The Group was alleged to be plotting to “overthrow the existing democratic government in Bangladesh through terror acts and replace it with a hard line Sharia based Islamic rule,” said NIA SP, Vikram Khalate.
He however, clarified that the charge sheet did not include provisions that deal with seditions, waging war against Indian state etc. The NIA, SP, Khalate when asked about it, said: “no evidence could be collected in course of the investigation that could have enabled the agency to slap those charges. No such activity of the group could be attributed to the group involved,” he added.
Besides, asked about the end use of the bombs manufactured at Burdwan’s Khagragarh unit, Khalate said : “the investigation so far did not find the end users of the bombs, either.” The charge sheet has been submitted and the investigations would continue. The NIA will file supplementary charge sheet as the investigation progressed, he added.
Among eight key accused still absconding, several were believe to be in Bangladesh. They included Kausar – alleged to be a Bangladeshi who had set up his base in Burdwan and was in regular touch with the bomb making unit. Kausar was believed to be a “courier” who took “explosives consignment” to different locations. Hel fled from Burdwan within hours of being informed about the blast.
Notable among other absconding persons are Md. Yusuf and Burhan Sheikh – both used to work at Simulia madrassa in Burdwan district where alleged ‘jehadi training” was imparted to targeted women. Nasirullah @ Sahadat Sheikh @ Sohail @ Hathkata – a Bangladeshi natiional is another key operative who is still at large, the NIA said.
The terror module apart from having its base at Khagragarh in Burdwan had spread its tentacles in districts like Nadia, Murshidabad, Birbhum in West Bengal and Sahebganj in Jharkhand and in some parts of Assam in Kakrajhore-Bongaigaon and Barepeta districts.
Efforts were also made to rope in “Indian youths based on their common religious and linguistic identity” and use them for activities in Bangladesh. The JuMB had set up camps and shelters for those who escaped from Bangladesh from time to time, the charge sheet stated.
The NIA charge sheet claimed that the October 2, 2014 accidental blast at Khagragarh in Burdwan district led to the detection of a wide terror network that was working along the borders and trying to “ motivate and radicalize’ vulnerable youths to the “Islamic cause.” The charge sheet described the two bomb makers – Shakil Gazi and Karim Sheiklh – as the masterminds of the JuMB module. Both were killed on the spot and another – Abdul Hakim was seriously injured and later treated at the SSKM hospital in Kolkata.
In course of the investigation, the NIA has listed a total of 32 persons in the network but have been about to arrest about 18 so far. More than 250 witnesses have been examined and over 100 searches conducted. When the NIA arrive at the Special NIA court at Bankshall in Kolkata City Civil court today it had four big trunks and several bags full of documents.