Alleged Indian Mujahideen member Afzal Usmani, who gave police the slip from court premises in September and was recaptured subsequently, has claimed in a letter to the court that he had not fled, but had been taken away by Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad officials.
Usmani submitted this letter to the special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act court here on December 10, when the charges were framed against him and other 22 men in connection with e-mails purportedly sent by IM taking responsibility for blasts in Delhi and Hyderabad in 2008.
Usmani fled from the sessions court here on September 20 and was arrested by ATS on October 28 from near Indo-Nepal border.
But he has presented a different version in the letter submitted to the special MCOCA judge A L Pansare.
According to him, on September 20, as he was talking to his nephew in the court premises, two ATS officers took them out of the premises. "They disclosed their identity and told the escort policemen around us to tell the court that Usmani had fled," says the letter, accessed by PTI.
They were taken to a farmhouse in Kasara (in neighbouring Thane district), it says, adding that "after leaving me there they took my nephew somewhere else". He further claims that ATS officials visited him thereafter a few times at the farmhouse, and asked him to become an approver in the case. Usmani also alleges that special public prosecutor Raja Thakare also visited him, and asked him to become approver.
"Thakare told me that if I become an approver then I will be let off from this case as well as the case of fleeing from the court," he says.
According to Usmani, he agreed to become an approver, thinking that he will be anyhow produced in the court.
After he was produced in the local court (on the day he was allegedly caught from Indo-Nepal border), somebody advised him to write this letter to the MCOCA court, he adds.
When asked for reaction, Thakare told PTI that ATS had nothing to do with the terror email case, which was probed by Mumbai crime branch.
"How can I ask him to turn approver, the charges are already framed," he added.
Maharashtra ATS chief Rakesh Maria could not be contacted.
According to the police, Usmani was involved in theft of four cars which were used to transport explosives to Ahmedabad and Surat. He has also been charged with planting bombs. Twenty-one blasts rocked Ahmedabad on July 26, 2008, within a span of 70 minutes, killing 56 and wounding over 200. In Surat, the same year, unexploded bombs had been found.