Goa blast case team’s investigative skills under cloud

Panaji, Nov 21 (Inditop.com) The chief of the Special Investigating Team (SIT) probing the Diwali-eve blast in Goa has come under a cloud with a court picking holes in his crime investigation skills in a 2000 blast in Vasco allegedly carried out by Islamic militant outfit Deendar Anjuman (DA).

District and Sessions judge Desmond D’Costa, while acquitting the main accused Mirasahab Kaujalgi, as also Mohammad Farooq Ali on Nov 18, has suggested that the police investigation team led by then Deputy Superintendent of Police Om Prakash Kurtadkar could have manipulated the panchanama, which is written at the scene of offence. Kurtadkar, now a superintendent of police, heads the SIT.

While Kurtadkar told the court that items attached under the panchanama were lying at the spot from the date of the incident, D’Costa pointed to the contrary.

“It also appears that the police had prior knowledge of the same, and the same cannot be said to be recovered at the instance of the accused Mirasahab. The same does not form any reliable piece of circumstantial evidence to connect accused Mirasahab with the crime,” the acquittal order reads.

D’Costa also said the investigating team had not brought forth even an iota of evidence to show that the accused persons were in Goa.

“The prosecution has failed to prove that the accused had any knowledge of the places in Goa and the location of the said places,” D’Costa said.

“There is no evidence that either of the accused had planted the explosive devices at St Andrew Church and that they had done so to insult the followers of the Catholic religion or that they had caused the explosion to endanger the church building,” the judgement further notes.

Mirsahab and his accomplice had been accused of planting an improvised explosive device (IED) near St Andrews Church. No one was injured in the explosion.

Police spokesperson Atmaram Deshpande told IANS said the court order was yet to be received.

“Once we get it, we will ask the officer concerned (Kurtadkar) to look at it. Only after that we will be able to decide whether we would be going in appeal against the order,” Deshpande said.

The police have come in for a fair bit of criticism for their handling of the investigation in the Diwali-eve blast case by the Bharatiya Janata Party, which claims that the investigators were succumbing to political pressure.

Four people, allegedly members of the Sanatan Sanstha (SS) have been arrested in connection with the blast, which saw two other members of the SS die in the explosion while allegedly ferrying detonator-rigged gelatin sticks to a crowded area in Margao, a south Goa town, on Oct 16.