Gorakhpur Blast: SP withdraws charges against Muslim youth

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Lucknow, 24 April: Conceding long standing demand by Muslim organisations, Samajwadi Party has decided to withdraw criminal charges against Tariq Qasmi in the Gorakhpur serial blast case. The blast that took place on 22 May, 2007 left six people injured. Quasmi an alleged HUJI operative was involved in the Gorakhpur blast and also the blasts in Faizabad and Lucknow Civil Courts.

This is the first case of ‘terror’ that SP government has decided to withdraw.  In its election manifesto, SP had promised to withdraw criminal cases and release innocent Muslims. The case against Tariq Qasmi is pending in court of Additional District and Session Judge Bhoo Dev Gautam.

The decision came after Shah Imam Maulana Ahmad Bukhari and other clerics lambasted Akhilesh Yadav government for backtracking on promises and not doing anything for welfare of Muslims. An organisation for human rights Rihai Manch headed by advocate Mohamed Shoaib had also been spearheading a campaign for releasing Muslims implicated in false charges.

Principal Secretary (Home) RM Srivastava said that the decision to withdraw matters related to Faizabad and Lucknow Civil Courts blast is pending against Tariq who is a native of Azamgarh. Srivastava said that the government has send directives to the District Magistrate of Gorakhpur to file an application for withdrawal.

A doctor from Unani, Qasmi is married and has four children. The Special Task Force (STF) had arrested Qasmi and another alleged HUJI operative Khalid Mujahid outside the Barabanki railway station on 20 December, 2007. Police claimed to have seized 1.250 Kg of RDX, six detonators, three cell phones and two SIM cards. The police claimed that it found Qasmi’s involvement in the Gorakhpur blast and filed charge sheet against him.

UP government has also decided to withdraw cases of treason against five Bangladeshis. According to sources, the Lucknow district authorities have been asked to move the court on decision of the government.

President of Rihai Manch, Mohamed Shoaib described the government’s move as ‘too little too late’. “Tariq Quasmi will remain in jail until similar charges relating to serial blast in Lucknow and  Faizabad District Courts are not withdrawn. Twenty two Muslim youths are languishing in jail for years on terror charges and the government decision says nothing about their fate,” Shoaib said.

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Special Correspondent (Lucknow)

Virendra Nath Bhatt is a post graduate in Economics. Started career as journalist in 1982, by contributing for a couple of Hindi dailies of Lucknow and Bareilly and also Jansatta of Delhi. Joined the English daily `The Pioneer in 1990 and later shifted to National Herald. After one year joined as correspondent for the Onlooker Magazine published from Bombay in 1991. In 1995 again joined The Pioneer in 1995 and worked till 2007. In December joined Indian Express Luck now. In September 2011 joined Tehelka. Bhatt has extensively covered parliament and assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh since 1985 and also the Ramjanma Bhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute in Ayodhya and the movement for social justice – the social strife against the implementation of the Mandal commission report in August 1990.

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