Sammad awaits release for want of guarnteer


Abdul Sammad, who was granted bail in the Pune blasts case on June 15, continues to await his release for the want of a guarantor.

Sammad, who was picked by the Mumbai Anti-Terrorist Squad from Mangalore on the suspicion that he was involved in an arms case and also the Pune blasts case, was granted bail five days back. The court, while granting him bail, had ordered him to pay surety of Rs 25000.

The procedure mandates that apart from paying a surety he should also have a person standing guarantee who in turn would be liable if the accused fails to adhere to the bail terms.

Sources told rediff.com that nobody has come forward to stand guarantee. Another issue is that he has no relatives in Mumbai where he is currently lodged.

Family sources say that they have managed to find a person as of now, but there has been some delay with regard to the verification of his documents. The police are looking into the records and do not want any trouble in the high profile case. The verification is expected to take another day following which he will be released.


Photograph: Sammad(in Blue shirt) sitting with his family

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Mecca Masjid suspects seek apology and compensation


At least 50 suspects were picked up from Hyderabad city alone for allegedly carrying out both Mecca Masjid and Ajmer blasts. All of them have been acquitted by the court and they currently are seeking an apology coupled with compensation from the Hyderabad police.
“While these youth try and put their life back on track, they say that it was not enough that they were acquitted, but the real joy came when the Central Bureau of Investigation announced who exactly had carried out these attacks. We are hopeful that the stigma will come down now that the real perpetrators of the attack have been nabbed,” says Dr Junaid, who was named the main accused in the Mecca Masjid blasts.

“There was a reason why we insisted on a CBI probe right from the start,” Dr Junaid told rediff.com.

“The Hyderabad police were not looking at this case from the investigating point of view and while in custody there was a lot of communal feeling from their side which I got to witness each day. The police cannot base its investigations on a communal angle. I was in their custody for two years and I cannot even explain the torture that they meted out to me on the basis of my religion.”

Abdul and Sayeed (names changed) who were in the custody for the same case too say that it is scary living in the city.

“We have been cleared by the courts, but there is this lurking fear that we could be picked up any time. Anytime there is an incident anywhere in the country, Hyderabad becomes the focal point and the nightmare starts for all of us. Even recently when there was a constable who was shot at, we were in fear since we thought that the police may come and pick all of us up again.”

Lateef Mohammad Khan of the Civil Liberties Movement Committee India, who took the lead in fighting the case of all these youth, says that it is the communal nature of the police which has made things worse.

“The trauma that these youth and their families have undergone is unimaginable and there have been instances where the marriages of some of the family members have been called off due to these cases. Who can compensate all that? Khan questions

Dr Junaid states that their stand today has been vindicated.

“I was working as a doctor in a private hospital before my arrest and the police without any basis picked me up. When in custody, there were constant taunts about my religion. I was reading our Holy Book when one of the police officers took me into a room and gave an electric shock on my lips. They joked about my beard and passed various other comments.

“I would not say that all in the department are communal. The CBI for instance has been very fair since day one. They have acted very late, but they have acted well. I am sure that they will take it to the logical end.”

Sayeed goes on to add that being acquitted was one thing, but investigators finding the real culprits was another.

“When we were acquitted, we were happy, but some in the society would continue to think that this happened due to a technicality. However, following the revelations of the CBI, people have started looking at us differently and accept our innocence.”

B’lore police certain about Madani’s arrest


The Bengaluru police say they have enough proof about the involvement of People’s Democratic Party leader Abdul Nasser Madani in planning the serial blasts in Bengaluru that claimed two lives on July 25, 2008.

According to the charge-sheet filed by the city police, Madani attended a crucial meeting along with terror suspect T Nasir in Coorg, 250 kms from Bengaluru, to plan the serial blasts.

The chargesheet further states that Nasir, who was arrested near the Bangladesh border, was the mastermind behind the blast, and he was helped by Madani.

The police have registered nine cases in connection to the blasts and ten terror suspects have been arrested.

According to the charge-sheet, the controversial PDP leader from Kerala had traveled to Madapur in Coorg, where Nasir was working at a ginger plantation. The chargsheet alleges that Madani assured Nasir of all possible help in carrying out the blasts.

Nasir met Madani again after the blasts, says the charge-sheet. Nasir had arranged for 2,500 riyals for the terror attack, indicating that the funding might have come from Saudi Arabia, according to the charge-sheet.

The police suspect that Abdul Sattar, another prime suspect in the Bengaluru blasts, arranged for the funding.

Madani has been booked for waging war against the state and concealing information. But sources in the city police say that the non-bailable warrant against him is yet to be executed.

“We are waiting for the right moment since we don’t want to trigger communal tensions during his arrest. But Madani’s arrest is certain,” added sources in the police.

Pune blast accused Sammad gets bail


Abdul Sammad Bhatkal, who was picked up from the Mangalore airport by the Mumbai Anti-Terrorist Squad for his alleged role in an arms case and also the Pune blasts case, was granted bail by the Mumbai sessions court on Tuesday.

Besides ordering conditions while granting bail, the court ordered him to furnish Rs 25,000 as surety.

The argument put forth by Sammad’s legal team was that the case was a non-starter since day one. He had been accused of supplying arms to three Chota Shakeel men who were arrested in Mumbai a couple of years ago. However, the three main accused were released on bail. It was in this case that a lookout notice was issued against him.

On his arrest, the police also charged him as a suspect in the Pune blasts case. It was stated that the face that was captured on the CCTV matched to his and hence he was being questioned in the case.

However, the ATS never managed to dish out enough proof against Sammad. His family members, on an earlier occasion, had told rediff.com that he was very much with them attending a wedding in Bhatkal when the incident occurred. They even gave out photographic evidence of the same. Further, it was contended that Sammad was only a bait to apprehend his brother Yaseen Bhatkal.

There had been uproar in Bhatkal following Sammad’s arrest. The family contended that he had been working in Dubai and had come down to Mangalore to renew his visa on May 24 when he was picked up.

Meanwhile, Sammad has been told not to leave the country without the court’s permission. Also, his passport will remain with the investigating officer.

Photograph: Abdul Sammad (the man in blue-shirt), with his family.

"Fail to understand how the police can go so horribly wrong’


The police investigations into the Ajmer and Mecca Masjid blast cases have floundered. The investigation went in one direction blaming the Harkat-ul-Jihadi for two years and now it is going in another direction where the Abhinav Bharat and the Sanathan Sanstha are being blamed. Several persons have often wondered why the police bungled this probe so badly that the courts had to release all those who were arrested initially and in some cases even ordered the state to pay compensation.

S R Darapuri, a retired Indian Police Service officer has been fighting for several innocents picked up and tortured by the police in several cases of terrorism, including the Ajmer case. “Being a part of the establishment for 25 years, I fail to understand how the police can go so horribly wrong. The problem is that a majority of the force has a communal bias towards the minorities,” the former top cop says.

In this interview with rediff.com, Darapauri explains how the police force is beset with bias and what needs to be done to tackle it.

What are your views on the shift in investigations into both the Ajmer and Mecca Masjid blasts case?

From day one, there was something fishy about the manner in which the investigations were being conducted. It looked like a complete frame up from the start. Many of us wondered why Muslims would blowing up their own shrines? Something did not add up from the beginning.

Are you saying that the same outfits carried out these blasts?

The Ajmer, Mecca Masjid, Malegaon and Goa blasts are all interlinked. I strongly suspect the role of Abhinav Bharat and the Sanathan Sanstha in these incidents.The uncanny resemblance in all these cases will tell you the story.

Do you believe that the police is on the right track now?

It looks fine at the moment. However, the biggest victory would be when innocents stop getting implicated in such cases. We must all thank (former Mumbai Anti-Terrorism Squad chief) Hemant Karkare who blew the lid off this phenomenon. The police were under the impression that it was the Muslims who were involved in all cases of terrorism. However Karkare exposed them. As a non-Muslim, I would like to say that while Muslim terror groups may carry out blasts in market places or other spots, they would never attack a mosque.

The police are largely to blame in such cases. They pick up the wrong persons and give a completely different spin to the case. Why does this happen?

There is a communal bias in the police department. I have seen that majority of the officers have a communal bias towards the minorities. This practice has been going on for a while now and no attempt has been made to stop this. Moreover there is no action against those police personnel who book innocent people in wrong cases. What has happened in Hyderabad? So many people were let off by the court. The police who booked the cases for reasons best known to them continue to remain unpunished.

What should be done to change this mindset of the police?

First the police should stop chanting the mantra ‘Every Muslim is not a terrorist, but every terrorist is a Muslim.’ This generalisation needs to stop. Even at the training level, police officers should be instilled with the correct mindset.

At the lower rung it gets worse and each one is affected by personal prejiduces which ultimately affects investigations.

Is there any kind of political pressure to act in a particular manner?

Yes, political pressure does exist. In many cases police officers have acted on political pressure and this kind of malice among them has affected all ranks of the force. There is a need to change the composition of the police force and ensure that they work more for the society. Today the police appear to be working towards nurturing their own personal prejudices.

What about the influence of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in the force?

The RSS has been infiltrating the force and also the administration for a long time. You speak of changing attitudes of the police with the change in government. However that makes no difference due to this infiltration. They pretty much control a large part of the system.

Ego clashes make K’taka judiciary suffer


The face-off within the Karnataka judiciary just got murkier with the registrar general moving the Supreme Court of India seeking a gag order on one of its judges, who had allegedly passed remarks on assignment of judicial matters.

While the apex court will take up the matter later on Tuesday, various senior advocates in Karnataka have been upset with the recent turn of events and have asked judges to stop expressing their grievances in public.

State Advocate General Ashok Harnahalli said this washing of dirty linen in public is regrettable and is adversely affecting the image of the institution.

“The entire controversy has arisen only because one of the judges in the high court had a problem with some matters not being placed before him. One must understand that the chief justice of any court is the Master of the Roster and it is he who decides as to who any matter goes before,” he said.

“In the case of Karnataka, however, the institution has been left headless in the wake of Chief Justice P D Dinakaran being asked not to take up matters due to an ongoing controversy against him. It is unfortunate to say that the Supreme Court or the government of India has not acted upon this matter and posted a functioning chief justice,” he added.

Uday Holla, a senior counsel who is representing the registrar general of Karnataka high court in this case at the Supreme Court, said the image of the institution has suffered a great deal.

He said: “Everyday the newspapers scream stating that the registrar has been pulled up by the judge and this is not going down too well with the litigants who come to the court seeking justice. I do not hold a brief for anybody here, but I am more concerned about the institution. Every time there is a judges’ spat, it appears in the newspapers and the institution suffers.”

Justice Santosh Hegde, former Supreme Court judge, said the Karnataka high court was being dragged into the muck for the past six months.

“Under the guise of fulfilling their egos, these judges are ruining the name of the high court. The Supreme Court will have a huge role to play in this matter.

“Here we have a chief justice who is told not to do judicial work, but he continues to enjoy administrative power. This is not correct and the Supreme Court will have to decide on this matter too. I would like to point out that any self respecting judge would have resigned the moment he was asked to go on leave.”

Putte Gowda, president of the Bangalore Advocates Association who had passed the resolution that Justice Dinakaran would not hear matters until he was cleared, said the apex court better take a decision to maintain the dignity of the institution.

“Ego clashes in the high court have been taking place too often and this does not augur well with the institution,” he said

Ajmer blast goof-ups


Syed Salim was at the Ajmer Dargah on October 11, 2007, like a lot of others offer his prayers on Ramazan, when a bomb ripped through the shrine. However, little did he know that he would be tagged as the bomber.

A hasty and irresponsible investigation by the Rajasthan police has scarred Salim’s family.

Two years after wrongly implicating him as the suicide bomber in the Ajmer dargah blast, the Rajasthan police finally accepted that Salim was not a terrorist but one of the victims.

The Hyderabad-resident was not alive to see his humiliation and relief, however his family has lived through it all — the pain and humiliation apart from the agony of his death.

The Central Bureau of Investigation, which is probing the case, concluded that Salim was not the suicide bomber after it was confirmed that the blast had been carried out by Hindu groups.

Salim’s wife and two children refused to talk about the incident, however his close relatives told rediff.com that the police interrogated the family very often for two years to find links between Salim and the blasts. While his family lived in Hyderabad, Salim had been working in Ajmer for he wanted to be close to the dargah.

“The family found it difficult to come out in the public. It is difficult to step out when a member of their family was accused of being a suicide bomber,” a relative said on condition of anonymity.

On the fateful day, while removing the bodies from the spot, the police stumbled upon Salim’s body and found a Telugu newspaper on him, which led them to believe that he was from Hyderabad, said police sources.

The Rajasthan police even claimed that they had found IED in Salim’s pocket and that he belonged to the Hyderabad module that carried out the Mecca Masjid blasts too. They had stated Salim was part of the Bangladesh-based Harkat-ul-Jihadi, which conducted the blast to create communal tension.

Relatives and friends of Salim said he was a soft-spoken person and a pious Muslim, who could have never done such an act especially at a holy shrine that he visited so often.

“Salim went to Ajmer because he wanted to spend more time at the dargah as he had immense faith in the shrine. Why would such a man even think of carrying out a blast?” his friend Farooq asked.

He had always wanted to open a shop near the Ajmer dargah so that he could visit the shrine often, he added.

Madani under scanner for role in Blore Blasts


The Bengaluru police are probing the involvement of controversial People’s Democratic Party leader Abdul Nasser Madani in the serial blasts that rocked the city in July 2008.

The police are waiting to interrogate the PDP leader, who has been admitted to a hospital at Kannur in Kerala, to get more information.

Two people had been killed on July 25, 2008, when nine serial blasts had rocked the IT capital.

Sources in the Bengaluru police told rediff.com that they suspect a strong link between the PDP chief and terror suspect Nasir alias Haji Umar, who also hails from Kannur. Nasir is a member of the top cadre of the now defunct Islamic Seva Sangh, which was responsible for inspiring and recruiting youths for Jihadi moment.

The police have registered nine cases in connection to the blasts and ten terror suspects have been arrested.
The final chargesheet will be filed against 26 accused, of which ten are already in custody. While four accused died in an encounter with the Army in Kashmir, the remaining 12 are absconding. Out of the 26 terror suspects, four are foreign nationals and the city police have sought help from the Interpol to nab them.

Nasir, 35, the son of a rich businessman in Kannur, was one of the principal recruiters of Jihadi youths. He recruited five men from Kerala to cross over to Pakistan from Kashmir last year to attend terror training by Lashkar-e-Tayiba leaders.

Four of them were killed by the Army, while the fifth man, called Jabbar, was arrested by the Joint Investigation Team of the Kerala police from Hyderabad recently.

During interrogations, Jabbar told the officials of the Anti-Terrorist Cell of the Karnataka police that LeT operatives had trained him for a week in Kashmir and later armed him with an AK-47 assault rifle to help him cross over to Pakistan.

Abdul Sattar alias Sainudeen, the main suspect in the Bengaluru blast case, was arrested by the city police a few months ago. He assisted the five men in Hyderabad and his ISS associate, Abdul Hameed alias Amir Ali, helped them in New Delhi on their journey to Pakistan through the Kashmir valley.

Abdul Hameed, a karate instructor and ISS strongman, fled Kerala in 2000 after the police charged him with plotting the murder of the then chief minister E K Nayanar. Hameed was arrested by the JIT team at the Kasargode railway station.

Men who played key role in 26/11


The National Investigation Agency team, which quizzed Lashkar-e-Tayiba operative David Headley in Chicago this week, tried to glean information about Abu al-Qama, who allegedly played a key role in planning the 26/11 terror attacks on Mumbai.

The NIA team asked Headley specific questions about Abu Qama’s role in attacks, Intelligence Bureau officials told rediff.com.

According to Indian investigators, Abu Qama, a militant commander in Kashmir, was recruited by the LeT to cash in on his network of international operatives.

During interrogation, Headley revealed that he had stayed in touch with Qama while planning the 26/11 attacks and updated him about the reconnaissance of terror targets in Mumbai.

Intelligence agencies initially suspected that that Abu Qama might be an alias for LeT leader Zarar Shah. Investigators are also probing the antecedents of a terror operative named Abdul Wajid, who reportedly guided the terrorists during the night of November 26, 2008, as they went about their killing spree in the heart of Mumbai.

Intelligence agencies admit that it is difficult to zero in on these terrorists as they use too many aliases. Their identities can be confirmed only after the Pakistan government provides voice samples of the terrorists who are in custody there.

“Headley’s statements are just not enough to ascertain who Qama, Shah and Wajid are. We believe that each one of them has played a very vital role in the attacks and bringing them to book will weaken the LeT. The Union home ministry has decided to seek the voice samples of these men to compare them with the samples we have (which were intercepted by the intelligence agencies during the attack),” said a source in the IB.

Though Headley has divulged information about the activities of Qama and the Inter Services Intelligence in planning the attacks, he did not have too much information about Wajid.

Headley stated that he received instruction from three ISI officials — Major Sameer Ali, Major Haroon and Major Iqbal. He told the interrogators that he stayed in touch with Abu Qama, who used the alias Mazhar Iqbal, when he conducted a survey of likely targets in Mumbai. After the attack, Qama had warned Headley that he didn’t want the ISI’s involvement to be revealed at any point.

Indian investigators are trying to find more information about Zarar Shah, who is being tried in Pakistan for the 26/11 attacks, along with other terror operatives including Wajid and one Muzzamil Bhat who supervised the terror attack on Mumbai.

Is Aseemanand the mastermind of ‘Hindu terror?’


The Central Bureau of Investigation, which is probing the Ajmer and Hyderabad Mecca Masjid blasts, say that their case will not be complete unless they lay their hands on Swami Aseemanand — who is believed to be the leader of Hindu right wing groups carrying out subversive activities in the country.

“While we continue to probe all angles relating to this case, the name that has been cropping up the most is that of Swami Aseemanand,” sources told rediff.com.

Although his connection cropped first in connection with the Malegaon blast case, investigators believe that he was in the know of the blasts at Mecca Masjid, Hyderabad and Ajmer. The security agencies have the godman telephonic conversations with Sadhvi Pragya Singh, a prime accused arrested for her alleged role in the Malegaon case, they said.

Prior to the blasts at Malegaon, the swami had made a call to the sadhvi and the Mumbai Anti Terrorism Squad has a recording of this conversation.

The investigators have also managed to get a lot of information on meetings between the two prior to the Malegaon blasts.

According to investigators, Aseemanand who originally hails from West Bengal left that place since he was upset with the Communist regime there. He then took shelter in Gujarat and over the years turned into a godman. During the various meetings with hardliners from the Hindu community, he discussed with them the ‘growing menace of Islamic terrorism.’

During one of these meetings he met Sadhvi Pragya Singh who shared similar views and they decided that the only way to curb this violence was through violence.

Investigators say he is the key. They believe that he is like a father-figure to the likes of Davendra and Chandrashkar, prime suspects in the Goa, Ajmer and Hyderabad blasts. The CBI has been questioning the duo about the whereabouts of Aseemanand and the due said they last heard that he was in Gujarat.

The investigators believe that he may have shifted base now since they were unable to track him down. However, they believe that he shares an extremely good rapport with the tribals in the Dangs district where he has been taking up re-conversion programmes.

The investigating agency also firmly believes that the godman had played an important role in funding these attacks. He had a lot of funds coming in for his ashram and a major part of it could have been diverted to carry out subversive activities.