‘Investigators did not brief witnesses properly’, says police official over Hyderabad Mecca Masjid Blast

The most intriguing part of the whole affair, which NIA insiders describe as ‘’hush-hush’’ with regard to the Mecca Masjid blast probe, was when the investigators reportedly made no efforts to brief t

Published: 17th April 2018 04:18 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th April 2018 08:00 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

HYDERABAD: The most intriguing part of the whole affair, which NIA insiders describe as ‘’hush-hush’’ with regard to the Mecca Masjid blast probe, was when the investigators reportedly made no efforts to brief the witnesses properly.

There were 226 witnesses in the case and once lower rung officials chose not to brief the witnesses, something the investigators often do in several such cases, they ended up turning hostile, which further weakened the case.

READ | Hyderabad Mecca Masjid blast: Did NIA or CBI mess up the probe?

Further, the NIA also chose not to file a supplementary charge-sheet in the case, something for which preparations were reportedly being made by the Hyderabad branch of NIA. “In such cases, it is important from the investigation point of view to brief witnesses, to prepare them once the trial commences. Not doing so shows lack of will in investigations of this nature. We do not know whether all of this has happened by design or default,” said a senior police official who was associated with several high profile investigations in the country.

Earlier, when the nine accused in Malegaon blasts were released, a group of former and serving bureaucrats had also raised objections to the extension of the then NIA director General Sharad Kumar, who it was believed, was close to the powers that be. He was given extension on the grounds that Kumar was well-versed with high profile cases including the Malegaon and Samjhauta express blast cases. But the Mecca Masjid probe has seen several twists and turns.

The then Hyderabad Police Commissioner Balwinder Singh, who constituted an SIT , was suspecting it to be the handiwork of Harkat-Ul-Jihad Al Islami terrorists led by Muhammed Shahed alias Bilal, a Hyderabadi who crossed over to Bangladesh and then to Pakistan, where he was believed to have been shot dead. Over 125 Muslim youth were picked up and interrogated but no clue emerged.

Back then, they were keen on knowing whereabouts of Bilal and another HUJI member Sharfuddin alias Hamza. Later, the case was handed over to CBI. The then Hyderabad police commissioner Balwinder Singh, who was transferred to the CBI, was once again entrusted with blast probe. But strangely, the CBI team headed by Singh then pointed fingers at ‘’Hindu terror’’.

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