Aurangabad arms haul case: Only two witnesses examined in six years

Mumbai, March 26 (IANS) More than six years after the infamous Aurangabad arms haul case was detected, a special court here has examined only two of total 247 witnesses named in the charge-sheet, it came to light here Tuesday.

The matter was brought to the attention of Mumbai High Court’s Justice S.C. Dharmadhikari during the bail plea Tuesday of one of the accused, Abdul Azeem A.J. Shaikh, alias Raja, accused of parking a car in which the explosives were loaded, his lawyer Sharif Shaikh said.
“The Bombay High Court has asked the trial court to file a reply within two weeks clarifying why only two witnesses have been examined in six years though the hearing was supposed to be conducted on a day-to-day basis,” Shaikh told IANS.
Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) Special Court Judge S.V. Modak is conducting the trial in the May 2006 Aurangabad arms haul case, in which one of the accused is suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba activist, Sayed Zabiuddin Ansari, alias Abu Jundal, who was deported from Saudi Arabia in June 2012.
Five years after the charge-sheet was filed in 2006, in August 2012, the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) framed charges against the accused in the case, including Azeem.
Arguing for Azeem’s bail, Shaikh, representing the accused on behalf of Jamiat-e-Ulema Maharashtra, said that at this rate, the trial will go on for decades.
The Aurangabad arms haul case was cracked by the ATS when a team of sleuths intercepted a Tata Sumo coming from Manmad and bound for Aurangabad on May 9, 2006.
After a hot chase, police finally managed to intercept it and nab one man, Mohammed Amir Shakil Ahmed, while two others escaped.
A search of the vehicle revealed an arms cache of 10 AK-47 army assault rifles, 40 magazine pouches and 30 kgs black explosives.
Three days later, the ATS intercepted a Tata Indica car without a registration number near Nashik. Sunsequent investigations led them to recover two boxes of arms from a gutter on the outskirts of Manmad.
A couple of days later, May 14, 2006, the ATS recovered five computer cabinet boxes from an electrical shop containing five AK-47 rifles, five packs of 100 cartridges, five packs of 20 magazines, and 13 kg of explosive powder.
Azeem contended that his entire role in what later became famous as Aurangabad arms haul case was to help park the empty Tata Indica car in his warehouse, but as its wheel got stuck in the warehouse door, it was taken to another location in a school compound at Ramzanpura and then finally outside a mill in Daregaon.
Shaikh said that in the confessional statements of other accused, they have stated that Azeem helped park the stolen car in his warehouse – which did not constitute an offence under MCOCA – and he had no knowledge that it was used in transporting arms and ammunition.
Accordingly, as no offence has been made out against Azeem by the prosecution in the case, he was entitled to get bail since he has been languishing behind bars for more than six years now.