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Didn't escape from court, ATS officials abducted me: Afzal Usmani

Saturday, 14 December 2013 - 9:00am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

Afzal Usmani, an alleged Indian Mujahideen (IM) operative who escaped from a sessions court’s premises on September 20, but was later re-arrested by the ATS, has alleged that the ATS abducted him. In an application to a MACOCA court on Tuesday, Usmani alleged that special public prosecutor Raja Thakare approached him, asking him to turn approver in the case.

Usmani’s one-page application, a copy of which is with dna reads, “On September 2, when I reached the sessions court, my nephew Javed Khan came to meet me. When Javed and I were speaking in the presence of the police escorts, two ATS officials approached me. They took me, my nephew and the police escorts outside the sessions court compound. They showed their identity cards, thereby asking the escorts to inform the court that I fled from the premises. The escorts abided by the ATS officials, who took us to a big farmhouse , somewhere in Kasara Ghat in a vehicle. They handed my custody over to two other men and, taking Javed along with them, left.”

The letter also alleges that several ATS officials visited the farmhouse repeatedly, asking Usmani to turn an approver in the case. “The officials gave me the option of turning approver to save my skin. They also made threats of dire consequences if I denied their offer. Apart from the ATS officials, the farmhouse was also visited by special public prosecutor Raja Thakare, but he came by only once. However, even he asked me to turn approver in the case if I was to get a clean chit in all cases registered against me.”

Usmani, through his application, pleaded with the court to take appropriate action against the ATS for their behaviour.

When dna contacted Thakare, who rubbished the claim. “Firstly, the IM case was not handled by the ATS, so I cannot understand how the ATS comes in the picture,” he said.

“It is a trick adopted by these people to malign a person’s image, who has sacrificed his life in the state’s service. I am a government official, hence my movements are traced at every toll naka and check post,” he said.

When dna contacted the ATS, agency sources rubbished Usmani’s claims and termed them baseless. “Usmani claimed that ATS men took him from court. Firstly, why would the escort policemen risk their job of handing him over to some other agency and get suspended? Also it is known that Usmani’s cousin had given him Rs600 after he escaped from escort custody,” an ATS source said.

“We have seized Usmani’s driving licence application when he was in Bahraich, Uttar Pradesh, while he was on the run. We also have airport CCTV footage of him being taken from Uttar Pradesh to the city. Why didn’t he give his confessional statement in 2008 when he was caught, why now? Most importantly, why would ATS take the confessional statement of a case investigated by the crime branch,” he said.

ATS chief Rakesh Maria refused to comment.

A new version

Usmani alleged that when he reached the court, two ATS officials came to him and showed their identity cards to his police escorts, asking them to inform the court that he had fled from the premises.

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