Prof attack: Chargesheet this week

via VR Jayaraj | Kochi - The Pioneer published on January 9, 2011

In the face of continuing setbacks to it with more and more accused getting bail, the special investigation team of the Kerala Police probing the Taliban-model Islamist attack against Prof TJ Joseph has decided to file the chargesheet at the District Court, Ernakulam before Friday.

The police would submit a request to the Home Department immediately for sanction to prosecute the 25 accused already arrested. However, there are officials in Kerala Police itself who suspect the strength of the case in the absence of vital evidences, including the weapon(s) used for attacking the professor, and the inability to arrest several of the key accused.

Islamists belonging to the Popular Front of India (PFI) had cut off the right hand of Joseph, a professor at the Church-run Newman College of Thodupuzha in Idukki district, on July 4 last for preparing a question paper which allegedly blasphemed Prophet Muhammad. The Kerala Police had started the probe with vigour but it lost steam after rumours spread that the NIA could take over the investigation.

The police decided to file the chargesheet at the earliest considering the possibility of more accused getting bail after January 15 as they would complete 180 days in judicial custody by then. Four key accused in the case had got bail last week for this reason despite the argument of the police that they were involved in a case with extremist nature.

Jaffer of Eramalallur and Ashraf of Kalady are the first and second accused in the case as per the report the police are planning to submit to the Home Department for sanction for prosecution. Both of them had got bail last week after they completed 180 days in judicial custody.

The third and fourth accused in the case are Yunus, said to be the facilitator for the assailants, and KK Ali, who had arranged the vehicle used by them to reach the spot of attack and to escape. Sources in the police said that they planned to file the chargesheet immediately after receiving sanction for prosecuting the 25 accused.

They also indicated that the chargesheet could be filed in two separate schedules as cases had been registered as per the provisions of the laws against unlawful activities and explosives. However, legal experts warned that charging offences on the accused without sufficient evidences at hand could backfire in the court.

The biggest challenge before the police presently is to recover the weapon(s) used for the attack on the professor. The police expect to recover the weapons once Popular Front leader MK Nasser, considered the mastermind behind the attack, fell into the net. But there are rumours that Nasser has already left the country.

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