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Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad's string of blunders

September 24, 2013 13:16 IST

Criminal jurisprudence is based on an interesting saying, “It is better that ten guilty persons escape than one innocent suffer.” However, that does not seem to apply to the Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad. There are several instances to show that the agency has botched up its investigation, the latest being in the case of Pune Bakery blast main accused Himayat Baig.

Indian Mujahideen co-founder Yasin Bhatkal has told the National Investigation Agency that Baig is innocent and was not even present near the blast site. The IM leader has claimed that he and Qateeel Siddiqui carried out the German Bakery attack. Siddiqui was murdered in a Pune jail over a year ago under mysterious circumstances.

The ATS never took into consideration the interrogation reports of Siddiqui, who had time and again told the police that there was no man called Baig involved in the German Bakery case. Siddiqui had said that the bombs were prepared by Yasin and they had transported it to Pune.

Despite Siddiqui being an important accused in the case, the ATS failed to place his interrogation before the court that tried Baig and sentenced him.

This is not the first time the ATS has gone horribly wrong in handling a case.

Samad Bhatkal Siddibapa

Under pressure to crack the Pune German Bakery case the Maharashtra ATS launched an operation against Samad, who incidentally is Yasin Bhatkal’s brother.

Sources in the Intelligence Bureau told that there was nothing to show that Samad was involved. The Bangalore police, who questioned Samad in 2009, warned the ATS that they had the wrong man.

The ATS went ahead with the arrest and even claimed they had CCTV footage of Samad planting the bomb at German Bakery. All the agencies in the country had stated that it was not Samad but Yasin who was in the frame, but the ATS remained adamant. The ATS was later forced to release Samad after his parents produced photographs of him attending a wedding in Bhatkal on the day of the blast.

Naqi Wasi Ahmed

The arrest of Naqi Wasi Ahmed, an Intelligence Bureau and the Delhi police informer, led to a two year delay in arresting Yasin Bhatkal.

Ahmed, who was active in the Indian Mujahideen circles, provided information to the agencies. It was based on his input that the Delhi police found that Yasin was in Byculla and had even rented out an apartment from where he carried out the 13/7 Mumbai attack.

This information was passed on to the ATS, but they went ahead and arrested Naqi Ahmed. This alerted Yasin Bhatkal and he managed to slip past the agencies.

Mumbai 26/11 attack

The city crime branch claimed that two operatives -- Sabahuddin Ahmed and Fahim Ansari -- had prepared maps which were used by the attackers.

When the matter came up before the court, it was found that the maps were not crumpled and had been prepared after the attack. Moreover, the maps only had some circles drawn, which clearly showed that it was not something that was used by the attackers who attacked with precision.

The acquittals of the two men stood right up to the Supreme Court. Finally it came to light that it was Lashkar-e-Tayiba terrorist David Headley who was behind the recce.

2006 Mumbai train blasts

The ATS arrested Ahmed Masiullah, who they believed was behind the attack. A month later they claimed the same man was behind the Malegaon blast too.

The ATS also arrested 11 others in connection with the Malegaon blasts, but all were absolved after the NIA said there was no evidence against them.

In the train blasts case, the ATS made another error. They arrested 11 persons only to be told later by an Indian Mujahideen operative that it was their organisation which had carried out the blast.

Mumbai 13/7 blasts

Yasin Bhatkal has claimed that there were five main persons involved in the blasts. He also stated that the ATS had named four more persons in the case and showed them as arrested. Ironically, Bhatkal claims none of them are in the country and are on the run. 

Vicky Nanjappa in Bangalore