The Akhilesh Yadav government in Uttar Pradesh appears to have realised that withdrawing false terror cases against innocent youths,which it had promised in the Assembly election campaign last year,is easier said than done.
After one year,it has ordered withdrawal of only two cases. The first was against Azamgarh-based alleged Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI) operative Tariq Qasmi for his involvement in the 2007 Gorakhpur serial blasts,in which six persons were injured. The second related to recovery of explosives and weapons from Qasmi and his alleged associate Khalid Mujahid from Barabanki in December 2007. A government-appointed commission had picked several holes in the police version of their arrest.
The government did consider for withdrawal all terror cases pending since 2001,including the Varanasi Sankatmochan temple blast of 2006,the Rampur CRPF camp attack of 2007,and the serial blasts in Uttar Pradesh courts of 2007,all of which claimed several lives.
As is the practice,the government called for status reports from the local administration and officials. What trumped it was the fact that in no case did the officials recommend withdrawal,for in almost all cases chargesheets have been filed against the accused. The government perhaps felt the risk was too great in going against the view of its own officers particularly as the courts are under no obligation to accept its requests in cases where trial is on.
There are bound to be protests from the victims too; the move to withdraw cases against the court blasts accused had to be dropped,for example,in the face of opposition from advocates.
While in the case of the Gorakhpur blast too,officials refused to give their consent for withdrawal,the government went ahead as no one had died in the incident.
With the government failing to live up to its promise,Muslims leaders like Maulana Arshad Madni of Deoband and Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid Syed Ahmed Bukhari have been asking questions. Interestingly,in the two cases where the government has ordered withdrawal,a few weeks have passed but the district authorities are yet to act. When they do,and if courts allow withdrawal,Qasmi and Mujahid will still remain behind bars,for they are also facing trial in the cases of Faizabad and Lucknow court blasts.
Bhupendra is a principal correspondent based in Lucknow
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