In an incident which exposes the lax attitude of the Navi Mumbai police, alleged Indian Mujahideen operative Afzal Usmani, an accused in the 2008 Ahmedabad and Surat blasts, managed to escape from the high-security Mumbai Sessions Court premises on Friday afternoon.

Usmani, a car thief, was the first to be arrested in the case by the Mumbai Crime Branch. His stolen car was found laden with explosives in Surat; luckily, the bombs were discovered and defused by the police. His arrest led to the cracking of a module by the Crime Branch in September 2008. The module was headed by Pune techie Mansoor Pheerbhoy, who used unsecured Wi-Fi locations in Mumbai to send threatening e-mails minutes before the blasts.

Police said Usmani and eight others were brought to the Mumbai Sessions Court at 1.45 p.m. and produced before the special Mcoca (Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act) court. The court was scheduled to frame charges in a Mumbai case in which he is an accused. A case in which the Indian Mujahideen sent e-mails minutes before Lucknow, Jaipur, Surat blasts. As all the accused were not present, the court scheduled the hearing for 3 p.m. and asked prosecution to produce all the accused.

“The guards produced the eight accused before the 37th court and were asked to present them at 3 p.m. These eight accused were escorted by 10 policemen of the Navi Mumbai police. The accused were not handcuffed inside the court premises, as is the norm. The court took a break for lunch at 2 p.m. Taking advantage of the crowd in the corridor, he vanished,” Navi Mumbai Police Commissioner A.K. Sharma told The Hindu.