Clear all hurdles for smooth trial in Malegaon case: Bombay High Court to NIA

The Bombay High Court on Tuesday directed the National Investigating Agency (NIA) to “clear all hurdles” in the 2008 Malegaon blast case and ensure that the trial proceeds “smoothly”.

A bench of Justices A S Oka and A S Gadkari noted that over 20 applications and appeals had been filed in the high court by various parties on varied grounds in the case.

As a result, the court had to sift through voluminous paperwork and over 4,000 exhibits, it said.

“How’s the court expected to clear these appeals in time if parties keep filing applications. We are certain most of these applications and pleas might even be frivolous,” the bench said.

“As a prosecuting agency, it is your (NIA) duty to ensure that all hurdles are removed and the trial in the case goes on smoothly,” it said.

The bench was hearing an appeal filed by Sameer Kulkarni, a co-accused in the case, challenging a 2017 order of a special NIA court, which permitted the use of photocopies of statements of witnesses and confessions of accused as secondary evidence in the case.

During a previous hearing, the bench led by Justice Oka had observed the special court should not have allowed the use of photocopies since there was no evidence to prove that they were authentic copies of the original, certified statements.

On Tuesday, the bench reiterated that the use of photocopies without any verification was wrong in law.

It told NIA counsel Sandesh Patil that the NIA should have pointed out the problem to the special court then and there and taken the correct legal stand by not relying upon the photocopies.

“You (NIA) are a premier agency. You have been constituted for a special purpose. Therefore, it was your duty to take the correct legal stand,” the bench said.

It is likely to hear the NIA’s justification, on use of photocopies as secondary evidence, in the next hearing on February 11.

In January 2017, the special court had permitted the use of photocopies after the NIA submitted that some files containing original witness statements and confessions of accused under section 164 of the Criminal Penal Code had gone missing and could not be traced.

The agency had pleaded at the time that since these statements could not be traceable and the proceedings of the case were conducted on a regular basis, the copies of the original be taken on record.

The case relates to a blast near a mosque in Malegaon, a town about 200 km from here in north Maharashtra, when an explosive device strapped to a motorcycle went off, killing six people and injuring over 100 on September 29, 2008.

Separatist Aasiya Andrabi, 2 others to 10-day NIA custody

New Delhi: Aasiya Andrabi and two other Kashmiri separatists were today handed over by a Delhi court to the National Investigating Agency (NIA) for 10 days’ custodial interrogation in connection with a case of allegedly waging war against the country.

Amid tight security, the trio, who were brought here from Srinagar, were produced before District and Sessions Judge Poonam Bamba.

During the in-camera proceedings, the judge allowed the plea of the NIA that Andrabi, who is chief of the banned outfit Dukhtaran-e-Milat, and others were required to be quizzed as investigation has revealed that by their activities in cyber space they “are running a concerted campaign to solicit support” from terrorist entities from Pakistan.

The NIA had sought the custody of Andrabi and her two associates — Sofi Fehmeeda and Nahida Nasreen– for 15 days.

The lawyers, who were associated with the case, were allowed inside the court room and they briefed the waiting media about the court proceedings.

The case was registered against the three women in April this year.

Court to pronounce quantum of sentence tomorrow: Bodh Gaya blasts

A special NIA court here, which had last week convicted five Indian Mujahideen militants in the 2013 Bodh Gaya blasts case, today deferred till tomorrow the pronouncement of quantum of sentence.

Special NIA Judge Manoj Kumar Sinha posted the matter after hearing arguments from the prosecution, which pressed for severe punishment to the convicts, and counter- arguments from the defence side.

Special Public Prosecutor Lalan Kumar Sinha said all five convicts – Imtiyaz Ansari, Haider Ali, Mujib Ullah, Omair Siddiqui and Azharuddin Qureishi – should be awarded imprisonment for life.

He argued that the blasts triggered at a world-renowned pilgrim spot could have caused “heavy casualties, leading to national and international ramifications”.

No deaths were recorded in the blasts, though some people, including Buddhist monks, had sustained injuries in the series of explosions that had rocked Bodh Gaya on July 7, 2013.

Defence counsel Surya Prakash Singh, however, repudiated the prosecution’s arguments, saying the explosions “were nothing more than a protest against atrocities on Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar by the Buddhist majority”.

“Had the intention been to cause casualties, bombs would not have been planted at secluded spots and timer would not have been fixed at 5 am, when very few people were likely to be present at the Bodhi temple”, Singh said.

In addition to the five convicts, another accused, Taufiq Ahmed, was held guilty in the case by a juvenile court in October last year and sent to remand home for three years.

All the six are also facing trial along with others in the Patna blasts case of 2013.

A series of bombs had exploded at a massive election rally of the then Gujarat chief minister and now Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Of the estimated 3,00,000 participants at the “Hunkar” rally, six people were killed and 89 others injured in the blasts.

10 LeT men charged for preparing to revive outfit’s activities in India

The NIA today charged suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operatives Sheikh Abdul Naeem and others in a Delhi court for allegedly preparing to revive the terror outfit’s activities in India on the directions of Pakistan-based handlers.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) named 10 persons — five of whom have been arrested, while the rest are absconding — in its charge sheet filed before District Judge Poonam A Bamba.

The charge sheet, which also names two persons, who have turned approvers, will be taken up for consideration on July 4, the next date of hearing.

Besides Naeem, the final report has named Bedar Bakht, Towseef Ahmad Malik, Dinesh Garg and Adish Kumar Jain as accused, who were arrested from different parts of the country, and are currently in judicial custody.

The charge sheet named Habib-ur-Rahman, Gul Nawaz, Javed and Mohd Imran as absconders, besides one Amzad, a Pakistan resident.

The report also listed the role of Mahfooz Alam and Abdul Samad, who were granted conditional pardon by the court earlier this month after both turned approvers.

The case was registered on November 27, 2017, against Sheikh Abdul Naeem, Amzad and others on allegations that Naeem was involved in receiving funds from Pakistan and UAE based LeT operatives for terrorist activities in India, and using it to establish hideouts, recruit people for the outfit and to do reconnaissance of targets in India.

Naeem, in pursuance of the larger criminal conspiracy to carry out the subversive activities in India, infiltrated into the country from the Bangladesh side along with three of his associates — Muzaffar Ahmed Rather, a Jammu and Kashmir resident, and two Pakistan-based terrorists, Md Abdulla and Md Yunus — in 2007, and while infiltrating into the Indian territory, he got arrested, the charge sheet said.

It added that while Rather, Abdulla and Yunus were awarded death sentence by a West Bengal court in January last year, the trial against Naeem is still pending since he had escaped from custody in August 2014, while being taken from Kolkata to Maharashtra for a court attendance.

“After his escape, Naeem continued his activities as an active member of the LeT and remained in telephonic (voice and VOIP calls) and internet (Nimbuz) contact with his handlers of LeT, including, but not limited to Abdullah Rashid of Faisalabad, Pakistan,” the final report said.

An Interpol Red Notice was issued against Rashid in 2009.

“On the instructors of his LeT handlers, Naeem carried out reconnaissance of hotels, restaurants and other places frequented by Jews, Israeli tourists, at and around Tosh, and Kasol at Kullu in Himachal Pradesh for carrying out jihadi activities.

“He recorded the videos of these places on his mobile and typed coded messages on his mobile to be sent to his handlers in Pakistan,” it said.

It claimed that with the investigation in the case, a large network of the LeT, operating in the country and posing a serious security threat to the country, has been neutralised.

“The role of Abdul Samad, a hawala operator, based in Muzaffarnagar, was established, who in connivance with Saudi Arabia-based Gul Nawaz and Muzafarnagar, UP-based jewellers Dinesh Garg and Adish Kumar Jain received funds from Saudi Arabia and delivered them to Naeem and others,” it said.

The accused were charged under various sanctions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, Indian Penal Code, Passport Act, Aadhaar Act and Arms Act.

NIA chargesheets Hizbul chief’s son for raising funds for terror acts

The NIA today charged Syed Shahid Yusuf, son of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin, with indulging in unlawful activities and raising funds for terror operations in a 2011 case.

The agency made the allegations in a charge sheet filed before District Judge Poonam A Bamba, who posted it for consideration on May 4.

The final report has alleged that Yusuf had hatched a conspiracy to received funds from Pakistan through hawala channels to spread terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir. The NIA has accused him of committing various offences punishable under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

42-year-old Yousuf was posted as agricultural assistant in Budgam town of central Kashmir when he was arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on October 24 last year. He is currently in judicial custody. His bail plea was dismissed by the trial court here on March 7.

The NIA charge sheet was filed under sections 13 (punishment for unlawful activities), 17 (punishment for raising funds for terrorist act), 18 (punishment for conspiracy), 20 (punishment for being member of terrorist gang or organisation), 21 (punishment for holding proceeds of terrorism), 38 (membership of a terrorist organisation) and 39 (support given to a terrorist organization) of UAPA.

The final report also accused him of hatching a criminal conspiracy, punishable under section 120-B of Indian Penal Code.

The agency said the case was registered on the basis of information regarding funds from Pakistan being sent to Jammu and Kashmir through hawala channels via Delhi to spread terrorism.

The NIA had earlier alleged that the accused had links with proscribed terrorist organisations like Hizb-ul-Mujahideen.

It has claimed that Yousuf had received a total of nearly Rs 4.5 lakh through eight international wire transfers.

The agency, which had in 2011 arrested several persons including one Ghulam Mohd Bhat with Rs 21.2 lakh, alleged that Yousuf was “one of the several Indian contacts of Bhat” who had been in touch with him for receiving money transfer codes.

It had alleged that Yousuf’s involvement was found in collecting funds from a terrorist outfit in Saudi Arabia as well as from other accused on the directions of his father, Mohd Yousuf Shah alias Syed Salahuddin, the self-styled supreme commander of the Hizb-Ul-Mujahideen.

Syed Salahuddin was declared a Specially Designated Global Terrorist by the US Department of State in June last year.

The NIA had registered two other cases related to terror funding — one in November 2011 and the other in May 2017. It had filed a charge sheet against 10 people including Salahuddin in the April 2011 case.

In the latest case, the NIA arrested various people including some close relatives and aides of separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani

Terror funding: NIA files charge sheet against Hafiz Saeed

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) today filed a charge sheet in a Delhi court against terror masterminds Hafiz Saeed and Syed Salahuddin and ten Kashmiri separatists in a case of alleged terror funding and secessionist activities in the valley.

The charge sheet was filed by the probe agency before Additional Sessions Judge Tarun Sherawat, who kept it for consideration later today.

The probe agency said the 12,794-page charge sheet has been filed against 12 persons including Hafiz Saeed, the head of banned terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba, and Hizbul Mujahideen head Syed Salahuddin for conspiring to wage war against the government (Section 121 of Indian Penal Code) by carrying out terrorist and secessionist activities in Jammu and Kashmir.

It said that offences for which the accused have been chargesheeted include those punishable under sections 120B of IPC (criminal conspiracy) and various provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.

Besides Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Saeed and Hizbul Mujahideen head Salahuddin, the other 10 persons accused in the final report are – Hurriyat leader Syed Shah Geelani’s son-in-law Altaf Ahmed Shah, Geelani’s personal assistant Bashir Ahmad Bhat, Aftab Ahmad Shah, Media Advisor and strategist of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, Nayeem Ahmad Khan, Chairman of secessionist outfit National Front, Farooq Ahmad Dar, Chairman of Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (R), Mohammad Akbar Khanday, media advisor of All Parties Hurriyat Conference (Geelani faction), Raja Mehrajuddin Kalwal, office-bearer of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watal, a hawala conduit and two stone-pelters – Kamran Yusuf and Javed Ahmad Bhat.

According to the NIA, the case was registered on May 30, 2017 and the first arrests made on July 24 last year.

The agency said that during the course of investigation, its teams conducted searches at over 60 locations spread across Jammu and Kashmir, Haryana and Delhi and seized over 950 incriminating documents and over 600 electronic devices.

Over 300 witnesses were examined during the probe, it said.

The NIA said the scrutiny and analysis of the documents and digital devices established that the accused Hurriyat leaders, the terrorists and the stone-pelters were carrying out terrorist attacks and orchestrating violence in Jammu and Kashmir as a part of their “well-planned” criminal conspiracy.

It said that conspiracy was hatched with active support, connivance and funding from terrorist organisations based in Pakistan and its agencies to achieve their objective of secession of the Jammu and Kashmir by waging war against the Indian government.

Seizure of demonetised notes: Court sends 9 to NIA custody

Seizure of demonetised notes: Court sends 9 to NIA custody
Seizure of demonetised notes: Court sends 9 to NIA custody

A Delhi court today sent nine persons, arrested in connection with the seizure of Rs 36 crore worth of old currency allegedly linked to terror activities in Jammu and Kashmir, to NIA custody.

District Judge Poonam Bamba allowed the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to interrogate the accused till November 21.

The public prosecutor, appearing for the NIA, sought 16 days custody to interrogate the accused, saying they were required to be confronted with the evidence and needed to be taken to other places for the probe.

The arrested are Pradeep Chauhan, Bhagwan Singh and Vinod Shreedhar Shetty (all residents of Delhi), Deepak Toprani of Mumbai, Ejajul Hassan of Amroha (UP), Jaswinder Singh of Nagpur and J and K-residents Umar Mushtaq Dar (Pulwama), Shahnawaz Mir (Srinagar) and Majid Yousuf Sofi (Anantnag).

The NIA had yesterday seized over Rs 36 crore in demonetised currency notes, allegedly linked to financing of terror and separatist activities in Jammu and Kashmir, and arrested nine people here.

Seven people were intercepted by an NIA team in Connaught Place area here yesterday as they were carrying 28 cartons filled with demonetised Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes in four vehicles — BMW X3, Hyundai Creta SX, Ford EcoSport and BMW X1, an NIA spokesperson had said.

He had said that the agency got an input about their activities while investigating a case relating to the financing of terror activities in the Kashmir Valley.

During the probe, it emerged that the people and entities linked to separatists and terrorists were still in possession of a significant amount of demonetised currency notes that could not be converted into new ones, he had said.

( Source – PTI )

Malegaon: SC for final hearing on plea against Sadhvi on Oct 31

Malegaon: SC for final hearing on plea against Sadhvi on Oct 31
Malegaon: SC for final hearing on plea against Sadhvi on Oct 31

The Supreme Court today fixed October 31 for the final hearing of a plea challenging the Bombay High Court order granting bail to Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case.

A bench comprising Justices R K Agarwal and S Abdul Nazeer listed the matter for final hearing after counsel for Thakur submitted that she would not like to file any documents with regard to the case.

The National Investigating Agency (NIA) had filed its reply in the case saying there was no evidence against Thakur.

Petitioner Nisar Ahmed Haji Sayed Bilal, father of one of the blast victims, has alleged in his plea that Thakur was a “powerful person” and could influence witnesses in the case.

He has sought a stay on the high court’s April 25 order granting bail to her. The high court had granted her bail, saying there was “no prima facie evidence against her”.

“The high court failed to appreciate that Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur is an influential person and is likely to wield her power and influence in an illegal and unlawful manner to tamper with evidence and influence witnesses,” Bilal has said.

He has claimed that there was ample evidence against her and “her role, involvement and complicity in planning and executing the conspiracy for committing Malegaon blast is writ large on the case record”.

It has said that she had been denied bail by a special court in Mumbai several times in the years 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2016 on the ground that “a prima facie case is clearly made out against her”.

Thakur was granted bail by the high court, which, however, had refused similar relief to Lt Col Shrikant Prasad Purohit, a co-accused in the case. The apex court had earlier this year granted bail to Purohit with certain conditions.

Seven people were killed in a bomb blast on September 29, 2008, at Malegaon, a communally-sensitive textile town in Nasik district of north Maharashtra.

A special MCOCA (Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act) court had earlier ruled that the Anti-Terrorist Squad had wrongly applied the MCOCA against Thakur, Purohit and nine others.

The 4,000-page charge sheet had alleged that Malegaon was selected as the blast target because of a sizeable Muslim population there. It had named Thakur, Purohit and co-accused, Swami Dayanand Pandey as the key conspirators.

The charge sheet had alleged it was Pandey who had instructed Purohit to arrange explosive RDX, while Thakur owned the motorcycle which was used in the blast.

Ajay Rahirkar, another accused, allegedly organised funds for the terror act, while conspiracy meetings were held at Bhonsala Military School in Nasik, it had said.

Rakesh Dhawde, Ramesh Upadhyay, Shyamlal Sahu, Shivnarain Kalsangra, Sudhakar Chaturvedi, Jagdish Mhatre and Sameer Kulkarni were the other accused.

( Source – PTI )

SC directs NIA probe into Muslim man’s nikah annulment case

SC directs NIA probe into Muslim man's nikah annulment case
SC directs NIA probe into Muslim man’s nikah annulment case

The Supreme Court today directed an NIA probe under the supervision of a retired apex court judge into issues raised by a Muslim man whose marriage was annulled by the Kerala High Court that described the case as an instance of ‘love jihad’.

A bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar said the investigation into the matter will be supervised by the retired apex court judge R V Raveendran.

It directed the probe agency to furnish the report to it after completing the investigation.

The apex court bench, also comprising Justice D Y Chandrachud, said it will take a view after considering the NIA’s probe report, inputs from the Kerala Police and after talking to the woman.

On August 10, the apex court had asked the Kerala Police to share the probe details of the case with the NIA.

The issue reached the apex court as Kerala-native Shafin Jahan challenged the annulment of his marriage by the Kerala High Court which ordered the state police to probe such cases.

The top court had said that it was entrusting the task to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) as a neutral agency to get a “whole picture” and ascertain whether the particular instance was limited to a “small pocket” or was there “something wider” to the issue.

Jahan, who had married a Hindu woman in last December, had moved the apex court after the Kerala High Court annulled his marriage, saying that it was an insult to the independence of women in the country.

The woman, a Hindu, had converted to Islam and later married Jahan.

It was alleged that the woman was recruited by Islamic State’s mission in Syria and Jahan was only a stooge.

Earlier, the apex court had sought a response of the NIA and the Kerala government on the plea of Jahan.

Ashokan K M, the father of the woman, had alleged that there was a “well-oiled systematic mechanism” for conversion and Islamic radicalisation.

The NIA has recently conducted probe into some cases of ‘love jihad’ in which women were allegedly being sent to Syria to join the ISIS.

The high court, while declaring the marriage as “null and void”, had described the case as an instance of ‘love jihad’ and ordered the state police to conduct probe into such cases.

( Source – PTI )

NIA moves SC for order to probe Muslim man’s marriage matter

NIA moves SC for order to probe Muslim man's marriage matter
NIA moves SC for order to probe Muslim man’s marriage matter

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) today moved the Supreme Court seeking an order to probe various aspects of the plea of a Muslim man whose marriage with a Hindu woman was annulled by the Kerala High Court that described the case as an instance of ‘love jehad’.

A bench comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justices A K Goel and D Y Chandrachud issued notice to Kerala-native Shafin Jahan and state police on the fresh plea of NIA that it needed a specific order to investigate the entire spectrum of the case having an alleged element of ‘love jihad’ as well.

Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh, appearing for the probe agency, told the court that NIA will have to collect documents and other materials from the state police and would require a specific order for conducting probe.

The bench considered the submission and fixed the NIA’s plea for hearing at 2 PM today itself.

Earlier, the apex court had asked the NIA to file a report before it on August 16.

The court had on August 4 sought the response of the state government and the NIA on Jahan’s plea challenging the high court order annulling his marriage.

The NIA has recently conducted probes into some cases of ‘love jihad,’ in which some women were allegedly being sent to Syria to join ISIS.

Terming the case as “serious” and “sensitive”, the court had asked the father of the woman to bring material on record in support of his claims on the alleged marriage of his daughter and that there was a “well-oiled systematic mechanism” for conversion and Islamic radicalisation.

Jahan, who had married the woman in last December, had moved the apex court after the Kerala High Court annulled his marriage saying that it was an insult to independence of women in the country.

The woman, a Hindu, had converted to Islam and later married Jahan.

It was alleged that the woman was recruited by Islamic State’s mission in Syria and Jahan was only a stooge.

The high court, while declaring the marriage as “null and void”, had described the case as an instance of ‘love jihad’ and ordered the state police to conduct probe into such cases.

( Source – PTI )