12 Years on, 78 Accused in Gujarat Serial Blasts Case Languish in Jail

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Defence lawyer advocate Khalid Shaikh feels that all the accused are innocent and they are being implicated as has happened in other terror cases

Waquar Hasan | Clarion India

NEW DELHI – Thursday’s order of an Ahmedabad special court rejecting the application of the accused in the 2008 serial blasts case to allow the defence to examine reporters and editors has raised many eyebrows.

As many as 78 accused in the case have been languishing in jail for the last 12 years without conviction. They have been booked under various stringent sections of the law, including the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and sedition charges.

Defence lawyer advocate Khalid Shaikh feels that all the accused are innocent and they are being implicated as has happened in other terror cases.

“The examination of the reporters and editors is a kind of our defence. It’s up to the court to decide the value of this. We believe that these cases were fabricated against the accused. The examination of the reporters and editors would prove that the police had already made up a story and then fitted it to the accused,” said Shaikh, who represented more than 50 accused in the case, while talking to Clarion India.

He said that 1,163 witnesses were examined in this case but the prosecution could not prove anything against the accused. According to him, the direct involvement of the accused has still not been proved.

“This case is like the Akshardham blast case. The case is being investigated by the same crime branch which was slammed by the Supreme Court in the Akshardham case, saying that the crime branch had implicated the accused. Like the Akshardham case, they are presenting the same set of evidence,” said Shaikh.

He said that these cases were made up to gain political mileage and to target a particular community, adding that it was an open secret that politicians took political mileage out of terror attacks. “When politicians don’t want to take political mileage, no blast takes place but when they want to take political mileage, blasts take place as happened in the Pulwama attack,” he said.

On 26 July, 2008, a series of bombs exploded in Ahmadabad and Surat, claiming 58 lives and leaving 200 others seriously injured. Indian Mujahideen was blamed for carrying out the terror attack. Months after the blast, the police made arrests of dozens of people belonging to the Muslim community. Many of the accused are highly educated, including some who are doctors and engineers.

The accused through their counsel prayed before the court that the defence should be allowed to examine the reporters and editors of the local and English newspapers in order to authenticate the sources of the reportage published in the period following the blast and prior to the arrest of the accused.

The reporters and photographers whom the defence wanted to examine are from vernacular dailies Sandesh and Divya Bhaskar, and English dailies The Indian Express and Ahmedabad Mirror.

Rejecting the application, Judge Ambalal Patel, who has been specially designated for the speedy trial of the bomb blast cases, on Thursday observed that the information collected by the reporters and published in the newspapers might not be true.

Another lawyer, Shamsad Pathan, who represented the accused in some terror cases, also feels that cases might have been fabricated against the accused but the defence does not seem to put up a solid fight for the clients. He also sees the political angle in the case.

“I have been seeing the 2008 bomb blast with dubious eyes from the very beginning. The reason being is that the blast happened at a time when there was outrage against Asaram Bapu after two children mysteriously died in his Ashram. It was the first time when voices were raised against Asaram. This outrage was rising so much that the people in power were finding it difficult to answer it. Then, suddenly the blasts took place. This is why I have my doubts over these serial blasts,” said Pathan.

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