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9 Ghatkopar blast accused discharged

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Last updated on: March 05, 2004 01:33 IST

In a major setback to the Mumbai police, a special court in Mumbai on Thursday discharged nine accused in the Ghatkopar bomb blast case due to lack of evidence.

However, the accused will continue in judicial custody as they are named in the Mulund, Vile Parle and Mumbai Central bomb blast cases.

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Two persons were killed and 49 injured on December 2, 2002, when a bomb exploded in a bus in Ghatkopar. Twenty-nine persons were chargesheeted under the Prevention of Terrorism Act with the police managing to arrest 19 of the accused. One accused died in Hyderabad while some others are absconding.

Prosecutor Rohini Salian said, "The accused had conspired to strike terror by setting off a series of blasts to avenge the killing of Muslims during the Gujarat riots. Police had found videotapes with them in different languages, which showed pictures related to the riots. Some document found with them indicated ties with the Laskhar-e-Tayiba and the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI)."

However, police failed to produce material evidence to nail Saquib Nachan, Haseeb Zuber Mullah, Ateef Mullah, Ghulam Sattar Kotan, Farhan Khot, Mohammad Kamil Abbas, Noor Mohammad Ansari, Dr Anwar Ali Khan and Mohammad Nadeem Paloba.

Nachen's lawyer Mubin Solkar said, "Their discharge is proof of their innocence. We have filed a special petition in the Supreme Court seeking bail for Nachen in connection with the other cases. It will come up for hearing on March 11."

This is second setback to the Mumbai police in the last two days.

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On Wednesday, Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Vaze was arrested by the Criminal Investigation Department on charges of murdering Kwaja Yunus, another accused in the Ghatkopar blast case. He is believed to have been killed in police custody.

Vaze claimed that on January 7, 2003, a police team was transporting Yunus from Mumbai to Aurangabad for investigations when their jeep overturned. Taking advantage of the situation, Yunus had reportedly tried to escape.

Some other accused still facing trial are Mohammed Abdul Mateen, Mohammed Mujamil, Jahir Ahmed Bashir Ahmed Shaikh, Imran Rehman Khan, Mohammed Altaf Mohammed Ismail, Toufiq alias Chotu, Arif Hussain Shabir Hussain Paanwala, Haroon Shaheed Mohammed Yamen Lohar and Rasheed Ahmed Abdul Malik Hussain.

The police have filed a charge sheet against them but the court is yet to frame charges.

With inputs from PTI

Vijay Singh in Mumbai
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