NIA Special Court discharges auto driver in IISc. terror case
Habib Mohammed, 41, an auto driver from Agartala, Tripura, is back home after an ordeal that spanned over four years.
In 2017, he was arrested in connection with the 2005 Indian Institute of Science (IISc.) terror attack case. He spent four years and three months in the city prison only to be discharged from the case on June 14, 2021.
The NIA Special Court in its order discharging him from the case pointed to lack of any credible evidence of his involvement in the case. The judge wondered that “he failed to understand why he was arraigned as an accused in the case”. A copy of the order is available with The Hindu.
“I have never been a fundamentalist and have never been involved in any terror activities,” said Mr. Mohammed, speaking to this correspondent from Agartala.
“Nearly 12 years after the alleged attack, the police suddenly arrested me, calling me me a terrorist. My family suffered without a breadwinner for over four years. The court has finally given me justice, but nobody will give me back my time in prison and the trauma my family and I were put through for no fault of ours,” he said.
His counsel Mohammed Tahir, while welcoming the court’s decision, described the events as a “complete travesty of justice.”
“An innocent person had to spend over four years in jail for no reason. We welcome the court granting relief,” he said.
Mr. Mohammed was arrested on the basis of a confession statement of one of the accused, Sabahuddin, to the Lucknow police in 2008. He reportedly claimed that Mr. Mohammed helped him and other conspirators cross over to Bangladesh after the IISc. attack.
NIA Special Court judge Kasappa Naik rejected an alleged confession statement by Mr. Mohammed in police custody as evidence and also pointed out that the prosecution had failed to gather any corroborative evidence to support the claims in the statement as well.
“Thus, there being no sufficient ground to proceed against Accused No.7 [Habib Mohammed], this court cannot frame charges against him, merely because a chargesheet is filed against him,” the judge wrote in his order.
In the last three months, Karnataka has seen courts granting relief to several accused in the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 2008 cases over the last three months.
On June 17, the High Court of Karnataka granted bail to 115 accused arrested under UAPA, 2008 in the D.J. Halli – K.G. Halli violence case of August 11, 2020.
The HC found fault with the order of the special NIA court that granted extension of 90 days to file a chargesheet in the case in November last year, without giving a chance for the accused to make their case.
The accused were released under the default bail provision, in view of not filing the chargesheet within the specified time period.
“Most of the arrests in the case were carried out based on mobile locations on the fateful night. Our houses are in the same area, but that doesn’t mean we perpetrated the violence. Ironically, it was on August 15, when the Central Crime Branch police called me to the police station, saying it was half an hour’s work, and arrested me. I returned home only 10 months later,” said one of the accused released on bail.