Editorial: Who Is Responsible For The Blasts?

Editorial: Who Is Responsible For The Blasts?

FPJ EditorialUpdated: Friday, March 01, 2024, 09:56 PM IST
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Abdul Karim Tunda | File Photo

The Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act court in Ajmer, Rajasthan, acquitted Abdul Quddus, more familiar as Abdul Karim Tunda, now aged 80 years, for bomb blasts in trains at Lucknow, Kanpur, Hyderabad, Surat and Mumbai on December 6, 1993, a year after the Babri Masjid demolition. It was observed as a dark day by many Muslims; the violence was meant as retribution. The TADA court, however, sentenced his two co-accused to life imprisonment. In February last year, Tunda was acquitted by a district and sessions court in Rohtak, Haryana, for the 1997 double blasts in the city but was pronounced guilty in 2017 for the 1996 bomb blasts in Haryana’s Sonipat by a local court and was serving a life imprisonment sentence. He has been accused of facilitating the movement of explosives around the country, raising funds for the Lashkar-e-Taiba, recruiting and sending young Muslim men for terror training, and having ties with fugitive gangster Dawood Ibrahim’s network. Tunda was among the 20 most-wanted terrorists that India had demanded Pakistan should hand over after the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai in 2008.

If an operative like Tunda can be acquitted in more cases of terror and bomb blasts than convicted, that too nearly 30 years later, it raises serious questions about the inordinate delays in the judicial process but, importantly, about India’s top investigating agencies. Stories have emerged that Tunda, born in Old Delhi and raised in Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh, had worked as carpenter, scrap dealer and cloth merchant but turned towards radical Islam after the post-demolition violence gutted his family. Since then, he stood accused of or linked to 40 bomb blasts across the country. His acquittal in most cases cited insufficient evidence. That the country’s topmost investigating agencies, including the Central Bureau of Investigation, could not make the charges against him stick in one court after another creates doubts about the integrity and reliability of investigation into terror cases that took tens of lives of innocent Indians. Who, then, was responsible for those blasts? If Tunda, frequently named as mastermind, stands acquitted then why did he spend years in jail after his arrest in 2013? The passage of time and short public memory may soften the dread of those years but families of victims need justice and closure.

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