Mumbai: IM man gets 5 yrs for running away

Afzal Usmani, an accused in the Ahmedabad blasts of 2008, had escaped from court in September 2013; he was rearrested in October 2013

A special court on Wednesday convicted Afzal Usmani, an alleged member of terror outfit Indian Mujahideen, for slipping away from the custody of Navi Mumbai police on September 20, 2013 after he was taken to the special MCOCA court in south Mumbai. He had been rearrested on October 27, 2013.

Afzal Usmani (left) was a native of Azamgarh. (Right)  Javed Khan, his nephew was also sentenced for helping him
Afzal Usmani (left) was a native of Azamgarh. (Right)  Javed Khan, his nephew was also sentenced for helping him

Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate S E Bangar convicted Usmani under Sections 224 (resistance to lawful apprehension), 34 (Act by several persons in furtherance of common intention), 419 (cheating by impersonation), 420 (Cheating), 465 (forgery) and 471 (using as genuine a forged document) of the Indian Penal Code to five years of imprisonment. He was also fined R10,000. Special Public Prosecutor Vaibhav Bagade examined 10 witnesses.

Escape plan
On September 20, 2013, around 1.30 pm, Usmani, an accused in the July 2008 Ahmedabad blasts that claimed 56 lives and injured over 200, was taken to the court complex, along with 22 other accused from Taloja Jail in Navi Mumbai. The accused, who were to appear in the MCOCA court for a hearing to frame charges, was being escorted by 10 cops.

According to police, the accused were produced before the judge who asked them to reappear around 2.45 pm. Then all the accused were brought out in the gallery to be taken inside court no 35 again later on the third floor of the complex that also houses the Sessions court. Investigating officer Dinesh Kadam said he escaped through a spiral staircase, while being taken to the gallery. During a headcount, the police team found Usmani missing.

Cops suspended
A DCP-level inquiry was initiated by Navi Mumbai police. Assistant Sub-Inspector Sanjay Deshmukh and Sub-Inspector Ram Chopade, and seven other officers attached to Navi Mumbai police, were suspended. They were later taken back on duty. Mumbai police had formed special search teams in all 12 zones and launched a manhunt for him.

Usmani was rearrested by ATS on October 27 from Rupadia railway station, Uttar Pradesh around 3.30 am, after they received a tip off from his nephew Javed Nurullah Hussain Khan. “Khan was also convicted for helping Usmani forge documents to conceal his identity under sections 216 (harbouring offender) for three years,” said Investigating Officer (ATS) Bajrang Parab.

Who is Afzal Usmani?
Usmani (35) was a resident of Nehru Nagar, Kurla (East). Other than his involvement in the Ahmedabad blasts case, he was accused of allegedly stealing four cars from Vashi, which were later found strapped with explosives in Surat. A scrap dealer, he also allegedly had links with the Fazal-ur-Rahman gang. Nine criminal cases, one of them under the harsh Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA), were registered against him.

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