Bukhari for speedy trial, not withdrawal of cases against terror accused

Unlike most other Muslim leaders, Syed Ahmad Bukhari, Shahi Imam of Delhi's Jama Masjid, is against the Akhilesh Yadav government withdrawing criminal cases against the accused in terror cases. Instead, he wants speedy trial in all these cases, if necessary by setting up fast track courts, where the accused can prove their innocence.

"I am totally against releasing the terror accused. But the cases of innocents who are languishing in jail should be taken up on priority," Bukhari told The Indian Express.

"Their fate should be decided at the earliest. They are kept in jail for years. The government should not release them but the court should decide their cases. The government can expedite the cases."

Bukhari, who had given a call to support the Samajwadi Party before the Assembly elections, said it was not easy to withdraw terror cases that are in court. "There are legalities involved in it and the matter will become complicated. It is better to prove their innocence in court," he said.

The Akhilesh government is examining the possibility of withdrawing the cases against the accused named in four terror strikes in UP — the court blasts in 2007, serial blasts in Varanasi in 2007, Gorakhpur blasts in 2007 and the attack on the CRPF camp in Rampur on New Year's eve in 2007.

The Law Department has already received reports from district officials in the cases of UP court blasts, Gorakhpur blasts and the attack on the CRPF camp. The report from Varanasi is awaited. The reports contain details of the cases, their status, and opinions of the district magistrates, SPs and prosecution officers on whether the cases could be withdrawn in public interest.

Except the case of the Gorakhpur blasts, the trial of the accused is currently on in all other cases. In two of the three cases registered after the Varanasi blasts, the trial has been completed and the judgment is awaited.

"In light of these facts, there is no point in talking of revoking the cases. Let the courts decide, but the government can take care of those innocents who are languishing in jail and the chargesheet has not been filed by police," Bukhari said.

By this yardstick, the government cannot release anyone. For, the only case where the charge-sheet has not been filed is the one relating to the Gorakhpur blasts, but no one has been arrested in this case.

Imam Bukhari, who has in the past accused the Akhilesh government of ignoring interests of Muslims, now appears satisfied. "At least they have started giving attention to Muslim issues," Bukhari said, but added that Muslim support to SP should not be taken for granted.

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