2006 Aurangabad arms haul case: All accused absolved of MCOCA charges, says defence counsel

Mumbai, July 28 : As a special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court in Mumbai found 26/11 terror attacks key plotter Abu Jundal and 11 others guilty in the 2006 Aurangabad arms haul case, defence counsel Mubin Solkar on Thursday said one of the most important thing is that all the accused have been acquitted of the charge under MCOCA which is a huge setback for the prosecution.

"One of the most important things is that all the accused persons have been acquitted of the charge under MCOCA and this is of course a huge setback for the prosecution, who has been applying for the provisions of MCOCA continuously without total application of mind," he said, adding that today's acquittal under the MCOCA of all the accused is definitely something that should make these investigating agencies to rethink about invoking MCOCA in the future.

Elaborating on the court proceeding, he said, "In all, there were 22 accused in the case, of them one accused absconded and yet to be arrested, while another has been made approver, who is facing a separate trial.

Thus, this trail was against 20 accused, of them 12 have been convicted, not sentenced as of now, while eight accused have been acquitted of all the charges." "The court discarded as inadmissible many confession statements, which were recorded under MCOCA.

And, when the judgment copies come, we will come to know what reasons the court has given for discarding those statements and acquitting all the accused under the MCOCA," said the defence counsel.

Talking about one of the accused- Feroz Deshmukh- he said, "As far as the question of Deshmukh arises, it has been said that his alleged confession was recorded, which he denied before the magistrate, who declared his confession inadmissible and acquitted him of this case." In his statement, said Solkar, Abdul Samad had said a wanted accused had asked him to contact as he wanted some CDs.

"The court said presumably they were talking about the CDs of Dr. Zakir Nair, but this confession of Samad was also discarded by the court, saying it cannot be considered as evidence.

"When produced before the magistrate, Samad too rejected that he knew Feroz Deshmukh or had made any call to him.

Samad further said he did not make any call to Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) for such CDs, and thus the entire confession is false, which he claimed was deliberately imposed on him by the investigating agency," said the counsel, adding that Samad immediately 'retracted and disowned' the confession.

When asked who were on target and from where the arms and ammunition were procured, he said the court observed the accused who was sentenced got those things were imported from Pakistan to target some political and public functionaries.

"The court, however, accepted that the prosecution's case that the arms and ammonisation were brought for Narendra Modi and some others politicians," the defence counsel added.

The MCOCA court said that this was a conspiracy after the 2002 Gujarat riots to eliminate the then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) president Praveen Togadia.

"Someone calling a government corrupt or unfit cannot be slapped with defamation prosecution," the court observed during the hearing.

The court also said this was a larger conspiracy to strike terror and they (accused) were calling it 'jihad' On May 8, 2006, a Maharashtra Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) team chased a Tata Sumo and an Indica car on Chandwad-Manmad highway near Aurangabad and arrested three terror suspects and seized 30 kilogram of RDX, 10 AK-47 assault rifles and 3,200 bullets.

Jundal, who hails from Beed district of Maharashtra, drove to Malegaon and a few days later he escaped to Bangladesh from where he fled to Pakistan, according to the state police.

Earlier, the trial had been stayed by the Supreme Court after one of the accused had challenged the constitutional validity of certain provisions in the MCOCA invoked on the accused.

The stay was lifted in 2009. In 2013, the ATS filed a chargesheet against all the accused for plotting various terror strikes since 2006.

Source: ANI