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Chargesheet silent on IM’s involvement in 7/11

When Mumbai Police arrested five alleged Indian Mujahideen terrorists and blamed them for Ahmedabad and Delhi serial blasts,they also claimed that these men were responsible for a majority of terror attacks in the country since 2005,including 7/11 commuter train attacks in Mumbai,which killed 187 people.

Five months ago,when the Mumbai Police arrested five alleged Indian Mujahideen (IM) terrorists and blamed them for the Ahmedabad and the Delhi serial blasts,they also claimed that these men were the backbone of a terror module responsible for a majority of terror attacks in the country since 2005,including the 7/11 commuter train attacks in the city which killed 187 people.

But the Mumbai Police chargesheet in the case due to be filed on Tuesday will be silent on these claims,sources told The Indian Express,raising eyebrows within the force and once again focusing on the turf war between rival departments. While the chargesheet being filed by the Crime Branch,which is in charge of the IM case,will be limited to the terror e-mails sent minutes before the blasts,the Maharashtra Anti-terrorism Squad (ATS) says it cannot seek the custody of these IM men and file a supplementary chargesheet in the 7/11 case — which is under the ATS — as it has not received any “official communication” about the IM men being linked to the train blasts.

The Crime Branch had first arrested five alleged IM operatives Afzal Mutalib Usmani (32),Mohammed Sadiq Israr Sheikh (32),Mohammed Arif Sheikh (31),Mohammed Zakir Sheikh (28) and Sheikh Mohammed Ansar (31) and Mumbai Police Commissioner Hasan Gafoor and Joint Commissioner (Crime) Rakesh Maria had announced on September 24 that these men had posed as Pakistanis and planted bombs on local trains along with Indian accomplices on 7/11.

Sixteen more alleged IM operatives were arrested subsequently and are also being charged on Tuesday.

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“Once the chargesheet is filed,it will be up to the ATS to seek custody of the IM members and verify their involvement in 7/11. It will depend on the ATS whether or not to file a supplementary chargesheet in the 7/11 case,” said a senior officer.

Asked for his response,acting ATS chief K P Raghuvanshi said that he had not received any formal communication from the Crime Branch on the involvement of IM operatives in the 7/11 case. “If any mention of the involvement of those arrested in the 7/11 case is made in the chargesheet,we will definitely take further action and follow up on their involvement,” Raghuvanshi told The Indian Express. If the chargesheet made no such mention,“some sort of communication and information should be given to us for us to act on it. So far,we have not been officially informed of any 7/11 link to the IM case,” he added.

The Crime Branch’s IM chargesheet will name 21 men who have been arrested and seven who are still wanted,and will deal with the e-mails claiming responsibility for the Bangalore,Ahmedabad and Delhi blasts allegedly sent by a ‘media wing’ headed by Mansoor Asghar Peerbhoy — a software engineer who was with a Yahoo subsidiary in Pune — by hacking into WiFi accounts in Mumbai.

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IM co-founder Riyaz Bhatkal and his elder brother Iqbal will be named as wanted accused along with LeT commanders Ameer Raza and Azam Cheema who are believed to be in Pakistan. Top IM operative Abdus Subhan Qureshi alias Tauqeer,and a driver identified as Mohsin,are also wanted in the case.

The accused will be charged under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act,the Explosives Act,Arms Act,Information Technology Act and various sections of the Indian Penal Code such as waging war against the nation.

First published on: 17-02-2009 at 10:15:02 am
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