J-K Government withdraws jailbreak case against Azhar Masood
7 January 2000
The Hindustan Times
JAMMU: The government forgot to withdraw a case against Maulana Masood Azhar in one of the courts and faced embarrassing moments in the court of Forest Magistrate yesterday.
Maulana Masood Azhar, one among the three militants released in exchange of hostages aboard a hijacked Indian Airlines plane in Kandhar, Afghanistan, is now in Pakistan. Another militant released from Srinagar jail, Mushtaq Ahmad Zargar, has been seen in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK).
Forest Magistrate Bala Jyoti raised the issue of the Maulana's absence in the court where he was one among the 25 to be produced in jail break case.
The Government has moved an application for the withdrawal of the case against Maulana Masood Azhar. The judge has fixed January 10 for the case to discuss how cases could be withdrawn against the accused in his absence.
It was on the intervening night of December 30th and 31st that the Government had withdrawn cases against Maulana, who was set free on 31st December morning. The prosecution wing of the State police had moved the judges for withdrawal of the cases against Maulana and Mushtaq Ahmad Zargar.
There were two criminal cases against Masood Azhar. One pertained to his illegal entry into the country by traveling on forged passport. The police records had shown that Maulana Masood Azhar had reached Kashmir on a forged Portuguese passport. He was also facing another case of casing law and order problem in Kotbhalwal jail, where he was shifted from Tihar four years ago. He was arrested on February 11, 1994 from Mitigund, a village in Anantnag district in south Kashmir.
The cases under TADA were withdrawn against Zargar before he was shifted out of Srinagar Central Jail.
Official sources told The Hindustan Times that all the legal formalities were completed before the two militant leaders were moved out of the prisons. The third militant Ahmad Umar Sayed Sheikh was in Tihar jail, Delhi and the cases were listed against him by Delhi Police.
The cases in the court of the forest magistrate too would be withdrawn. The application has already been moved, sources said.