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2005 Diwali Blasts Case: Delhi HC to Hear Appeals on 14 August

Trial court said there was no evidence against the two men, but the government still decided to appeal the verdict.

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India
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On Tuesday, 9 July, the Delhi High Court held that it will hear appeals against the decision of the Patiala House Special Court to acquit two of the main accused in the 2005 Delhi serial blasts case on 14 August. Sixty-seven people died in the three blasts on Diwali, while 225 were injured.

Some alleged conspirators were killed in encounters, while two pleaded guilty. Three men were put on trial in Patiala House court, which delivered its verdict on 16 February 2017, after eight years of hearings.

The two men who were acquitted – Mohd Rafiq Shah and Mohd Hussain Fazili – spent 12 years in jail before the court acquitted them, holding that the prosecution had failed to provide any evidence to show they were involved in the blasts.

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  • In the case of Shah, who was accused of planting a bomb on a bus on the day, it turned out the police failed to prove he even was in Delhi and had failed to investigate a clear alibi claimed by him, that he had been attending classes at the University of Kashmir on the same day. The court held that prosecution “miserably failed to prove that he was involved in the placing of the bomb on the DTC bus.
  • Fazili was supposed to have used a number connected to the Lashkar-e-Taiba on his mobile phone – but it turned out this was used only for a recharge, and no other proof was provided linking it to him.

Both men had initially provided statements to the police confirming their involvement, but they retracted these disclosure statements, arguing they had been forced to make the statements after being tortured and that they had been falsely implicated.

The court held that the police failed to prove that the third accused, Tariq Ahmed Dar, had anything to do with the blasts. However, Special Judge Reetesh Singh did convict him of belonging to a terrorist organisation (LeT) and providing support to it.

He filed a separate appeal against this conviction in the Delhi High Court, while the government has also filed an appeal against his acquittal in relation to the blasts themselves.

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The 2005 Blasts

On 29 October 2005, three bombs exploded across Delhi. The first blast, at Tooti Chowk, Paharganj, killed 17 persons and injured 108. The second blast took place at Sarojini Nagar Market, in which 50 persons died and 104 were injured. A third blast then took place on a DTC bus at Okhla Phase-II, opposite the Madiana Masjid, Transit Camp – 13 people were injured in this blast.

The Special Cell of the Delhi Police claimed that the blasts were masterminded by Tariq Ahmed Dar, who was familiar with the markets in Delhi and suggested Diwali would be an opportune time carry out terrorist attacks in the Sarojini Nagar, Karol Bagh and Paharganj markets because of the crowds. Dar then allegedly called the representatives of news agencies in Kashmir and the BBC and disowned the attacks on behalf of the LeT.

Mohd Rafiq Shah, an MA student at the Institute of Islamic Studies, Kashmir University, was alleged to have been present at an initial meeting of LeT operatives, and to have been the one to plant the bomb on the DTC bus at Okhla Phase-II. Along with the other operatives who allegedly planted the bombs, he is then supposed to have returned to Srinagar.

Fazili, a shawl weaver, was accused of being part of this conspiracy on the basis that he owned a mobile handset which had been used with a mobile number that was linked to the conspirators, including Rafiq Shah. He supposedly led the police to Rafiq Shah when the police apprehended him – something he later denied.

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Topics:  Delhi High Court   LeT 

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