Mumbai blast suspects turn out to be ‘innocents’ (Lead, Changing dateline)

September 8th, 2008 - 10:39 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi/Mumbai, Sep 8 (IANS) In a major embarrassment to the Central Bureau Of Investigation (CBI), a Mumbai court Monday said the two suspects the agency nabbed in Nepal last week were not the accused in the March 1993 serial bomb blasts.Special Judge U.D. Mulla of the designated court under Terrorists and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, ordered the CBI to send back the arrested duo - Ashfaq Ahmed and Riyaz Lone - to Nepal.

Riyaz Lone was mistakenly identified as Riyaz Khatri and Ashfaq Ahmed as Ashfaq Shah alias Abdul Salim Ghazi, aides of the India’s most wanted fugitive Dawood Ibrahim, who are alleged to have had a role in 1993 Mumbai serial blasts that killed 257 people.

The two turned out be to innocents having no links to the terror act.

Lone and Ahmed were arrested by the Nepal police in Kathmandu and handed over to the Indian authorities Friday in what officials said was “a rapid and well-concealed operation”.

Since there was some confusion about their real identities, the court gave the CBI time till Monday for verification.

A CBI official in Delhi said: “It was a case of mistaken identity.”

Lone migrated to Nepal in 1980s and is a pashmina trader in the Himalayan country.

The official said the CBI scrutinised Lone’s background and found he had nothing to do with the 1993 serial blasts.

“After checking his background, it became evident it is a case of mistaken identity,” the official added.

Earlier, a plainclothes Indian team led by the CBI officials at the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathamandu Friday took custody of Lone and Ahmed and flew them to India.

The CBI claimed that an Interpol red corner notice was in place against Khatri, who faces “charges of murder, criminal conspiracy and terrorist activities”. He is alleged to have once been Dawood’s driver.

These were the second Mumbai blast-related arrests in Nepal.

In 2006, the Nepal police arrested two Pakistanis, Moiuddin Siddiqi and Ghulam Hussain Cheema, from a five-star hotel in Kathmandu. However, they were not handed over to India. Instead, the Nepal police began legal proceedings against them, accusing them of possessing explosive materials.

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