The special court of Judge M L Tahiliyani rejected the case against two alleged local facilitators of the November 26, 2008, attacks — Goregaon resident Fahim Ansari (36) and Sabauddin Ahmed (25) — saying the prosecution evidence “lacked both quantity and quality”.
The prosecution case against the duo rested primarily on the testimony of an eyewitness, Nooruddin Shaikh, who was projected as Ansari’s childhood friend. In January 2008, Shaikh claimed he was in Kathmandu with his friend Bharat Thakur. There, he said, he saw Ansari hand over maps of city installations to Ahmed.
According to the prosecution, Ahmed passed those maps to Lashkar-e-Tayyeba bosses in Pakistani to facilitate the 26/11 carnage. One of the maps was allegedly recovered from the trouser pocket of Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab’s slain partner Abu Ismail. Kasab was the only terrorist captured alive during the attacks.
Rakesh Maria, then joint commissioner of police (crime), had claimed: “We ascertained that the maps are the same as those made by Ansari.”
But the court found the maps didn’t fit into the conspiracy. “I find the maps confusing rather than aiding a person to move from one place to another,” observed the judge.
He rejected Shaikh’s testimony, saying, “It suffered from many infirmities and did not inspire confidence.” Judge Tahiliyani also wondered if Shaikh ever visited Kathmandu as no proof of his crossing the India-Nepal border was produced.
“It is doubtful if [Shaikh] ever met Accused No 2 [Ansari],” said the judge, who also brushed aside the prosecution theory of the map being used by Kasab and Ismail during the attacks.
Apart from noting a discrepancy in the panchnamas conducted for the alleged recovery of a map from Ismail’s trouser pocket, Judge Tahiliyani pointed out that the map was not crumpled or blood-stained even though the pocket was soaked in blood.“How can a piece of paper kept in a trouser pocket remain neat and clean from November 22 [when the attackers set sail from Karachi] to 28?” asked the judge.
The judge also doubted the prosecution claim that Kasab and Ismail intended to attack Raj Bhavan, which was why they travelled towards Malabar Hill and were caught at Girgaum Chowpatty.
“Considering the meticulous planning of the attack, they were destined to go neither to Malabar Hill nor Girgaum Chowpatty,” said the judge. “I feel they were to remain inside Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus.”
The prosecution’s claim that Ansari took admission in a computer institute opposite the stock exchange also fell apart as the court rejected the “loose sheets of papers” produced as proof of his having taken admission. “No steps were taken to produce office copies of admission papers, documents showing he attended classes,” said the judge.
Yasmin, Ansari’s wife, told TV channels that justice had been done. “This is an important decision for us,” said a burqa-clad Yasmin, who was mobbed by journalists after she had a 10-minute meeting with her husband. “[ATS chief] Hemant Karkareji had given Fahim a clean chit [after he was arrested in Uttar Pradesh in the Rampur attack case].”