Haj House Imam moves plea

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Mumbai, Jun 16 (UNI) Maulana Gulam Yahya, Imam of the Haj House mosque at Crawford market, arrested for his alleged involvement in harbouring three Kashmiri militants before the July 11, 2006 serial train blasts, today moved a plea seeking direction to shift him to the cell made for senior citizens known as 'Budha Barrack' on health grounds.

When Yahya (48) was produced before Additional Sessions Judge S D Agarwal in the fast track court at Sewri, his Advocate Waris Pathan moved a plea, saying that his client is suffering from kidney problems and is lodged on the first floor of the jail, reserved for the young undertrials, who, every now and then, create problems for him.

He told the court that he has to answer nature's call very frequently, which was very difficult for him as the toilet was located on the ground floor.

The charges against him were framed recently before Justice Agarwal of the fast track court, who had fixed today's date for the commencement of the trial.

When the prosecution furnished a list of documents in the court, the defence sought time to examine the same. Therefore, the trial was deferred till June 24.

Judge Agarwal, while deferring the trial, directed the Suprintendent of Arthur Road Jail to file a reply on the same day on a plea moved by Yahya, seeking direction to shift him to the cell made for senior citizens.

Yahya, who is at present languishing in Arthur Road Jail, was arrested on January 13, 2006, on the charge of harbouring three militants from Jammu and Kashmir having alleged links with Lashkar-e-Toiba outfit. He is facing charges under the various sections of the Indian Penal Code and under the Prevention of Unlawful Activites Act. He, however, has denied all charges framed against him and pleaded not guilty.

This case preceded the serial train blasts that took place on July 11, 2006, when suspected Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorists planted bombs in the first class compartments of seven suburban trains on the Western Railway line.

The Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS), in their chargesheet, has alleged that the Imam was a link between Salauddin, the Lashkar commander in Kashmir, and the three alleged militants -- Mohammed Ramzan Abdul Wahab Haji, Kurshid Ahmed Abdul Gani Lone and Arshad Hussain Badru Hussain. The ATS had seized detonators, timers and electronic devices from the three Kashmiris.

While the three suspected militants have been sent to Kashmir, where they are facing preventive detention charges, Yahya was also given in the custody of Kashmir Police. He, however, was later discharged by a local court in Kashmir due to lack of evidence and was brought to Mumbai to face the trial.

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