Tug of war over Jaipur suspect

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By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT in Lucknow
  • Published 27.07.08
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Lucknow, July 27: A Jaipur police team yesterday shoved a Muslim teacher into a van in Varanasi and sped off towards Rajasthan, but had to bring him back today under pressure from local police after protests in the town.

Jaipur and Uttar Pradesh police are now together questioning Maulana Abdul Matin Madni, 32, in Varanasi over his alleged involvement in the May Jaipur blasts that killed 65 people.

The lecturer of Jamia Salkia Arbi (deemed university) in Varanasi is an activist of the Indian Mujahideen, Jaipur additional superintendent of police Prahlad Singh Meena said. The outfit has claimed responsibility for yesterday’s Ahmedabad explosions, the Jaipur blasts and last November’s court bombings in Uttar Pradesh.

Meena and his team, who had been camping in Varanasi, grabbed Madni as he stepped out of the university yesterday afternoon and drove off. Late in the evening, some 500 of Madni’s neighbours from the Rewri Talab area, led by clerics, blocked roads and protested near the university.

“Madni has an impeccable reputation as an Arbi teacher and an honest man. That’s why the residents protested,” Maulana Abdul Batin, the Mufti of Varanasi, said.

“We called the Jaipur team back,” Varanasi police chief Prakash Meena said. By then, the team had reached Kanpur. It returned to Varanasi this morning.

Madni is accused of checking into a Jaipur hotel in April under a false name, Mohammad Rehman, and leading a bank robbery on April 22. The Rs 22 lakh they stole is believed to have funded the May 13 blasts.

While looking for “Rehman”, Jaipur police had earlier arrested a man named Mohammad Abdul Rehman in New Delhi on May 22.

Police sources said Rehman led them to the discovery of RDX but turned out to be just an explosives courier. So the search for the mastermind “Rehman” began again.

Camera watch

From today, whenever terror suspects are taken to court from jail, Uttar Pradesh police will videograph the entire journey to identify and profile their sympathisers.

“Terrorists meet their associates on way to court hearings. A gazetted officer should accompany them and their movements must be videographed,” state police chief Vikram Singh said.

More controversially, sources said, even meetings in jails between terror suspects and their families would be filmed — a decision that had lawyers divided.

Advocate Manoj Singh said the police could do it for the sake of investigation but the measure must not be misused. Fellow lawyer N.B. Singh said the move would violate an undertrial’s right to privacy.

The police cite how two militants fled from a Lucknow court last year with help from associates. Uttar Pradesh has over 70 terror suspects in its jails, and is believed to be home to some 40 “sleeper” modules.