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Friday,22-January-2021

Crime

26/11 case: I wanted an ‘open trial’ for the world, says Ujjwal Nikam

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Ujjwal-Nikam

As India prepares to observe the 12th anniversary of the dastardly Nov. 26, 2008 (26/11) terror strikes in the country’s commercial capital Mumbai, celebrated lawyer Padmashri Ujjwal Nikam revealed how in 2009, he insisted on a “public trial” in the case.

“Actually, the government considered holding an ‘in-camera trial’, given its sensitive nature with domestic, regional and global political ramifications, besides the massive security concerns. I strongly urged that there should be an open, transparent trial, under full scrutiny of the world,” Nikam, who was the Special Public Prosecutor in the case, told IANS.

Given the keen interest all over, the government nodded its approval — and what unfolded was the biggest legal war within the confines of a high-security Special Court set up inside the Arthur Road Central Jail, in front of the domestic and international media, leaving them stunned.

With a battery of lawyers and investigators, SPP Nikam directed the government charge against the sole surviving terrorist Ajmal Amir Kasab, nabbed alive, but only after a daredevil policeman Tukaram Gopal Omble sacrificed his own life in the valiant effort in the early hours of that cool morning of Nov. 29 (2008).

Probably, it was the first time in the world that a savage gun-toting terrorist was caught red-handed as he unleashed mayhem along with his 9 associates, who were gunned down at various locations by the security forces in the 60-hour full-fledged battle in South Mumbai.

Starting around late night of Nov. 26, 2008, the attackers struck with clinical precision at a dozen high-profile public locations, leaving a trail of massive destruction and the final death count of 166, plus 300 injured.

“India can proudly proclaim that it was an unprecedented, open-court trial of a brutal terrorist, never witnessed before by the world, and has become a torch-bearer on many counts, and finally resulted in the noose for Kasab (Nov. 21, 2012),” said Nikam, 67, honoured with a Padmashri (2016).

According to the SPP, the most important aspect of the trial was its ‘secular’ nature, given the touchy political or religious overtones involved at different levels.

The trial Special Judge M. L. Tahiliyani, the SPP Nikam, Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (Mrs.) Rama V. Sawant-Vagule, (who recorded Kasab’s maiden statement post-arrest early morning of Nov. 29, 2008), the government-appointed lawyers defending Kasab at different points – Abbas Kazmi, K. P. Pawar, Amin Solkar and (Ms) Farhana Shah – hailed from different religious backgrounds.

Nevertheless, they worked in a thoroughly professional manner, with a common aim for ‘justice’, but punctuated by many antics, oft leading to murky or mirthful brawls between the tough prosecution and the aggressive defence, while the country and world watched closely.

For instance, the defence started by lobbing a legal grenade claiming “Kasab was a minor” which caught the prosecution unawares and created a huge fracas, while the prosecution once hit back, frowning at the delay tactics by the defence, and contended how “Kasab is feasting on Mutton Biryani in jail” – though both declarations proved false later!

“In all these years, nobody has ever viewed the trial in a communal sense, not even a whisper of the respective faiths of any of the people having the slightest influence on the proceedings, by religious fundamentalist on any side in India or Pakistan… It was purely a business-like exercise for all concerned,” said Nikam.

He terms this as “a tribute to the immense respect and credibility of the Indian justice system” domestically and internationally, as there have “been absolutely no questions raised” on the manner in which the trial was conducted, the punishment handed out, Kasab given full opportunity right up to the President of India, and finally being executed.

He wished that Pakistan could have shown “similar traits” of free, fair, credible and transparent proceedings as 7 of the accused in the 26/11 case are facing a “sham trial in a Kangaroo court” there.

Crime

3 injured as fishing boat catches fires in Andhra’s Kakinada

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Fishing-boat

Three fishermen were injured on Friday when a fire broke out on their boat in Kakinada Port in Andhra Pradesh’s East Godavari district, police said.

“Diesel spilled on the boat’s floor as the three filled the vessel’s tank around 1 pm. As they tried to jump-start the engine with the help of wires attached to a battery, sparks flew and set the spilled fuel ablaze,” a police official said.

Firefighters rushed to the spot to extinguish the fire as Kakinada Port police shifted the injured to a hospital.

A fisherman who saved himself by jumping into the water was brought to the shore with the help of onlookers.

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Crime

25 kg gold stolen at gunpoint from Muthoot Finance branch in Tamil Nadu

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Gun point

Six masked persons brandishing pistols on Friday barged into a Muthoot Finance branch in Tamil Nadu’s Hosur on Friday and fled about 25 kg gold jewellery valued at about Rs 7.5 crore and Rs 96,000 cash, police said.

The gang members held up the company staff and a couple of customers at gun point, and even assaulted some of the staffers.

Police said the gang first attacked the security guard and forced him inside the branch while warning the staff not to raise any alert.

The gang then looted the jewellery and cash and escaped.

Police have started their investigation into the robbery.

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Crime

Four die in illegal mining in Jharkhand

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Mining

Four persons engaged in illegal mining died on Friday morning as mica mines caved in Jharkhand’s Koderma district. The incident occurred at the Foolwariya jungle, following which two bodies have been recovered from the mine this afternoon, the police said.

According to police, a rescue operation is underway to extract the other bodies.

When the mines caved in, there were more than 10 persons engaged in illegal mining. As many as four persons managed to escape while six persons got trapped inside the mine.

Of the six persons trapped, two were rescued by the local people but are reportedly in a critical condition.

Illegal mining of mica mines is going on for a long period of time in the state.

Illegal mining of coal, mica and bauxite mines claims many lives every year in the state.

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