Expedite Mumbai twin blasts case: Bombay HC to POTA

posted under by NSmurthy
Mumbai, July 20: Taking serious cognisance of the petition filed by an accused in the Mumbai twin blasts case, the Bombay High court has directed the special Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) Court, which is conducting the trial, to expedite the case and also check the credibility of two of the prime witnesses in the case.

The direction was passed in the petition filed by Ashrat Ansari, prime accused in the twin blast case. Ansari in his petition had questioned the credibility of two of the prime witnesses in the case, Ajmeri Shaikh and Kanti Popat.

Ansari had moved the High Court after the POTA Court rejected his application.

Justice Nishita Mhatre of the Bombay High Court in her judgement has observed that every individual has a right to appeal, be it a common man or an accused and that the POTA Judge should have given a patient hearing to Ansari's grievances before rejecting it.

Both the witnesses, Shaikh and Popat, whose credibility Justice Mhatre has directed to check, are prime witnesses in the trial of the twin blasts that occurred at the Gateway of India and Zaveri Bazaar in south Mumbai.

Shaikh had deposed to have been a good friend of two of the arrested accused Rizwan Ladoowala and Hassan Batterywala. He had said that he had visited the accused's residence after the blasts when Batterywala offered him sweets to "celebrate their achievement".

The second witness Popat had deposed before the Court that he had visited the Zaveri Bazaar on the day of the blast when he had an altercation with Ashrat Ansari over a cab.

According to Popat, Ansari's behaviour was suspicious and he seemed to be in a hurry to leave the place. Popat approached the Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) a day after the blast and informed them about Ansari.

Ansari's advocate Sushan Kunjuraman in his petition has questioned the credibility of the two witnesses and has stated that the ATS is framing Ansari in the case.

Both Shaikh and Popat are also witnesses in Mumbai's 7/11 serial train blasts case.

Shaikh in this case had deposed that he was close friends with the prime accused Ethesham Siddiqui and had seen suspicious elements like black powder and loose wires at Siddiqui's residence.

Meanwhile Popat's role in the 7/11 case comes as of a 'Panch' witness, before whom allegedly one of the accused Ethesham Siddiqui confessed some of the crucial elements and also agreed to show the place the accused had visited before the blast.