In a breather for the National Investigation Agency (NIA), Sheikh Abdul Khaleem, who was earlier lodged in Chanchalagudda jail (Hyderabad) along with Samjhauta blasts case accused Aseemanand, on Friday supported his earlier statement about Aseemanand confessing his role in the Samjhauta blasts, Ajmer blasts, Malegaon blasts and Hyderabad Mecca Masjid blasts.
While coming out of the NIA special court, he told HT, “I am being threatened and warned against deposing here in the case. My family is also deeply worried. I can’t talk to you.”
So far, 17 witnesses have turned hostile in the Samjhauta case. The blasts had taken place on February 18, 2007, near Panipat, killing 68 people, mostly Pakistanis.
According to NIA counsel Rajan Malhotra, Khaleem told the court that Aseemanand was sorry that he (Khaleem) had to suffer torture and wanted to do “prayashchit” (repentance) so that no other innocent persons would suffer. Khaleem told the court that Aseemanand informed him that he had stated the truth in the court and to the CBI in respect of the blasts at Mecca Masjid (Hyderabad), Malegaon, Ajmer Sharif and the Samjhauta train and he did not have to suffer anymore. Earlier, Khaleem was being interrogated in the Hyderabad blasts case.
In his statement recorded under Section 161 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), Khaleem had said, “One day, while I was reading aloud from a Urdu newspaper to him (Aseemanand) and telling him what was being reported about the Mecca Masjid bomb blast case, Chawaish (jail warden) passed by and asked Aseemanand whether he knew who I was. When Aseemanand told him that I was a fellow prisoner who was in jail for a mobile smuggling case, Chawaish told him that I had earlier been arrested in connection with the Mecca Masjid blast case and had been jailed for one-and-a-half years and suffered torture at the hands of police.”
Khaleem had further said, “Aseemanand was shocked at hearing this and asked me whether this was true. When I told him that this was correct, he instantly apologised and told me that he was very upset that I had suffered punishment for his sake, and he told me that he was sorry. I told him that it is better he apologised to family members of the persons who had lost their lives in the blasts.”
Khaleem is now 27. He was interrogated for the Mecca Masjid blasts and his brother Sheikh Khawaja was also arrested in the case. “Today, he said he faced five cases and was acquitted in all. He had shared a prison cell with Aseemanand,” said Malhotra.
The Mecca Masjid blasts had taken place on May 18, 2007, three months after the Samjhauta blasts.