Wednesday, March 27, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

POTO charge against Afroz dropped

Mumbai, March 26
In a major climbdown, the city police today appealed to a special court to drop provisions of anti-terrorist ordinance POTO invoked against suspected Al-Qaida terrorist Mohammed Afroz Abdul Razak.

Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam told designated Judge A P Bhangale that the police had committed a “mistake” by invoking POTO in this case and claimed that even legal opinion had endorsed the view.

The judge sought papers of legal opinion on the basis of which the police had appealed for dropping POTO charges against Afroz. The prosecutor has sought time till tomorrow for producing the relevant documents and the matter was adjourned accordingly.

Afroz was arrested on December 3, but booked under POTO on March 1. He is facing the charge of participating in a conspiracy to blow up targets in foreign countries.

On a query by the court, 26-year-old Afroz stepped into the witness box and informed that at this juncture he did not wish to say anything and also did not possess a desire to engage any advocate.

Prosecutor Nikam said after weighing the entire material on record, police had taken a bold step of realising its mistake of invoking POTO.

The prosecutor made it clear that only POTO charges were sought to be dropped against Afroz and emphasised that he would be tried under the IPC for waging war against nation and friendly countries, sedition and conspiracy.

He appealed for the transfer of Afroz’s case to a court of metropolitan magistrate because POTO was being dropped and the special court had no jurisdiction to try him.

Outside the court the prosecutor told reporters that police had enough material to establish Afroz’s link with the Al-Qaida. PTIBack


Vajpayee summons Modi

Ahmedabad, March 26
In unabated communal violence in Gujarat a woman was burnt alive and a 19-year-old youth died in police firing as the Prime Minister summoned Chief Minister Narendra Modi to Delhi to discuss the situation in the state.

A 70-year-old woman was burnt alive in her house in Viramgam town of Ahmedabad rural district early today, police sources said.

Twelve shops and houses were set afire by the mobs forcing the authorities to impose curfew in the town from 3 p.m. The police opened fire to disperse stone-pelting mobs in Viramgam town this afternoon. While two were injured in police firing, the others were wounded in violence.

In Ahmedabad, a 19-year-old boy was killed and two others injured when police fired several rounds to disperse a mob indulging in arson and stone-throwing in Astodia area.

One person was injured in stabbing in Memnagar area of Navrangpura police station in the early hours.

In Visnagar town of Mehsana district a boy belonging to a minority community was stabbed in Mayabazar locality today, prompting imposition of curfew from 7 p.m.

Meanwhile, the police opened fire in curfew-bound areas of Baroda to control a mob. However, no one was injured in the firing, the police said here today.

A mob tried to set afire houses and kiosks in the curfew bound areas of Baroda city, they said.

In the city, two persons, including a woman, were injured when an explosive was thrown at an autorickshaw in Bapunagar labour dominated area late last night.

Curfew in the city is in force without relaxation for the sixth the day today in six police station areas of Kalupur, Dariapur, Shahpur, Karanj, Haveli and Vejalpur. PTIBack

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