13/7 Triple Blast: Bombay High Court refuses to discharge Hawala operator, who financed blasts through Yasin Bhatkal

Mumbai: In a setback for the alleged financier of the 13/7 triple blast, the Bombay High Court on Thursday refused to discharge him from the case. The HC said it cannot hold that he had no connection with the offences. The Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) had identified the banned Indian Mujahideen (IM) as the outfit responsible for the blasts that killed 27 people and injured 127 others at Opera House, Zaveri Bazar and Kabutar Khana in Dadar. The heads of IM — Riyaz and Yasin Bhatkal, were identified as the key conspirators.

The ATS had arrested six persons including Kawalnayan Wazirchand Pathreja (50), a Delhi-based hawala operator, accused of giving Rs 10 lakh to Yasin Bhatkal, for executing the blasts. In his defence, Pathreja claimed that he had no idea about the conspiracy for blasts. He even argued that Bhatkal, when came to his Mumbai residence for collecting the amount, had not revealed his identity and thus, he was not aware as to for what purpose this amount was being taken.

In January 2018, Pathreja accordingly applied for discharge from the case before the special court designated to hear cases under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crimes Act (MCOCA). The special court, however, rejected his application seeking discharge.

Aggrieved by the orders, Pathreja petitioned the division bench of Justices Indrajit Mahanty and Sarang Kotwal, challenging the orders of the special court. The bench after hearing the submissions advanced from both the sides, said, “There is a presumption running against Pathreja which can be rebutted by him during trial only after the prosecution gets an opportunity to lead evidence. At this stage, there is enough material to show that Rs10 lakh were given by him to the main accused Yasin Bhatkal.”

“It is for Pathreja to establish his innocence by explaining the source of such an amount or by pleading any other defence which is available to him to rebut this presumption. It is, therefore, not possible to record a finding for the purposes of discharging him to hold that he had not rendered any financial assistance to the main accused. Hence, his application for discharge stands dismissed,” the bench added.

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