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Saturday, January 16, 2010 08:08:47 PM, & Agencies

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Mumbai: A fast-track court at Sewri today acquitted Maulana Ghulam Yahya, the Imam of Haj House, who was facing charges of harbouring three alleged Kashmiri militants in 2006.


Yhaya was arrested on January 13, 2006 on the charges of harboring Mohammed Ramzan Abdul Wahab Haji (61) , Kurshid Ahmed Abdul Gani Lone (32) and Arshad Hussain Badru.(29) who were arrested a week before Yahya's arrest.


Delivering his final order in a jam-packed court, Ad-hoc Additional Sessions Judge A V Patkar acquitted Yahya, while he found guilty three Kashmiri militants and they were awarded different imprisonment ranging from three years to seven years.


"The charges against the Imam could not be proved and he was acquitted," said Maulana's lawyer D.U. Mirajkar.


The court had examined 23 witnesses in connection with this case, besides going through the other evidences produced by the police. According to the prosecution, the Imam was a link between Salauddin, the Lashkar-e-Toiba commander in Kashmir, and the three alleged militants - Mohammed Ramzan Abdul Wahab Haji, Kurshid Ahmed Abdul Gani Lone and Arshad Hussain Badru Hussain.


The Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), which was investigating the case, had earlier claimed that it has seized detonators, timers and electronic devices from the three Kashmiris. While the three Kashmiris have been sent to Kashmir, where they faced preventive detention charges, Yahya has been in custody in Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai.


Today, the Kashmiri trio was brought to the court from Kashmir jail and they were taken into custody after they were convicted by the court.


Police had framed charges against Yahya and 3 other accused under relevant sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and conspiracy.


The court when told Yahya that he has been acquitted, Yahya saluted the judge and said, “Thanks Sir”.


Outside the court, after offering Namaz,  Yahya said that he has been vindicated, as he was innocent. When asked about his days as undertrial, Yahya said, “I had very hard time in jail. Only I know how each second passed there”.


While Yahya’s son Imran (18) who studies in 12th standard said, “I had to take an off from my college to come to court. My academics were affected due to this”.  Yahya also has a 17 year old daughter Nasreen and son Irfan (14).


Shortly after the Imam stepped out of the court, a large crowd of prominent Muslims, including Maulana Ejaz Kashmiri, Imam of Handiwadi Mosque and Bombay Aman Committee president Farid Shaikh, greeted and hugged him.


'An eye-opening Judgment'

Welcoming the judgment, President of Jamiatula Ulema Maharashtra Maulana Mustqueem Azami while speaking to said, "We had trsuted no-one but the court. The Court today has given a historic decision that should work as an eye-opener for the government and the investigating agencies who are playing with the lives of innocent Muslims."


"For more than four years we were trying to get him released at least on bail. But he was denied even that while his poor wife and innocent children were going through the hardship", he said while adding, "What the government and the investigating agencies will say now?"


President of Mumbai Aman Committee Farid Shaikh who was fighting the case for Maulana Ghulam Yahya while speaking to over phone welcomed the judgment and said, "Maulana Ghulam Yahya and his family were known to me personally and from the day one I believed he is innocent. The judgment has vindicated my belief."


At the same time, he was critical of the investigating agencies that without having any evidence against Maulana Ghulam Yahya framed such charges against him that the courts could not release him even on bail.


The ATS had chargesheeted all the accused under Unlawful Assembly (Prevention) Act, Explosive Substance act, Explosive Act and Arms act.


"In almost every court we applied for bail. But the charges against him were so heinous that no Court could grant him the bail", he said adding, "We approached the High Court with the bail application thrice. Three months back while hearing on our bail application the High Court had in fact ordered the fast-track court to finish the case as early as possible."









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