Kerala

Blast case accused’s acquittal leaves NIA red-faced

The acquittal of two prime accused, Thadiyantavide Nazeer aka Ummer Haji, an alleged operative of the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Shafas Shamsudeen, in the Kozhikode twin blast case of 16 years ago is being perceived as a setback for the National Investigation Agency (NIA) which probed the first terror- linked case in the State.

In its 100-page judgment, a Division Bench of the Kerala High Court comprising Justice K. Vinod Chandran and Justice Ziyad Rahman pulled up India’s premier agency for its apathetic attitude in collecting independent evidence.

The investigators did not make a concerted effort to “go out in the sun” to collect independent evidence of the version of the accused,the court observed.

In their anxiety to wrap up the case, the court said, the officers of the NIA even recorded the confessions made by the accused, clearly inadmissible under the Evidence Act.

Unreliable confession

The Division Bench also observed “we do understand the inherent difficulty of an investigation, in a case taken over by the NIA, almost four years after the incident. The investigating officers were groping in the dark for almost four years, till the arrest of Shafas in another blast case.”

His confession during interrogation in another blast case cannot be relied on, the court observed.

The approver’s evidence, the court stated, failed miserably in the twin tests - “that of inherent reliability and credibility as also on the aspect of corroboration.”

The prosecution failed to establish the conspiracy angle that the accused wanted to retaliate against the “perceived partisan attitude of the Executive and the Judiciary” in not granting bail to the Muslim accused involved in the Marad massacre of May 2, 2003.

Twin blasts

The twin blasts that rocked Kozhikode city on March 3, 2006, have been one of the intriguing terror-linked cases in the State. Two people, including a police constable, had sustained injuries in the explosions.

The only clues left behind were the anonymous calls from a public call office received at the District Collectorate and a local eveninger, Calicut Times, warning that bombs had been planted at these places and would go off within half an hour. Later some newspaper offices received a letter from a fictitious organisation “ Al Kanoun” admitting to the blasts.

Initially, the case was investigated by a Special Investigation Team of the Kozhikode City Police and later it was handed over the Special Investigation Group – III of the Crime Branch – Crime Investigation Department on June 13, 2006.Subsequently the NIA took over the case on December 8, 2009.

The arrest of Abdul Halim, another accused who was acquitted by the NIA Court earlier,by the Kochi police in July 2009 gave a fresh impetus to the investigations in the case. The Kochi police was then probing the blast at the Ernakulam collectorate.

The arrest of Nazeer and Shafas by the Bangladesh police and later handed over to the Border Security Force gave leads to the probe team. Both of them hailing from Kannur had fled to Bangladesh after the terror-attacks in Bengaluru in July 2007.


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Printable version | May 15, 2022 10:34:29 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/blast-case-accuseds-acquittal-leaves-nia-red-faced/article38339851.ece