In wake of reports that Pulwama attack accused Yousuf Chopan was granted bail as the NIA failed to file a charge sheet within the prescribed period, the anti-terror agency on Thursday clarified that he was not arrested in that case.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA), in a statement, said that Chopan was “never arrested in Pulwama attack case. However, he, along with six others, was arrested in a Jaish-e-Mohammed conspiracy case registered in August last year”.
In that case, the anti-terror agency said that two charge sheets were filed against eight people, namely Sajad Ahmad Khan, Tanveer Ahmed Ganie, Bilal Ahmad Mir, Muzaffar Ahmad Bhat, Ishfaq Ahmad Bhat, Mehraj-ud-din Chopan, Mudassir Ahmad Khan, Karti Mufti Yaseer. These included two terrorists — Mudassir and Yaseer, who were killed in a shoot-out with security forces.
During investigation, the NIA had arrested seven Over Ground Workers (OGWs), out of which six accused were charge-sheeted in two charge sheets and Chopan was not charge-sheeted due to “inadequate evidence”, it said.
“As such he has been granted default bail by Special NIA court, New Delhi on February 18, 2020,” the NIA said, adding that he has been sent back to Kot Bhalwal jail in Jammu under Public Safety Act by the order of District Magistrate, Pulwama.
The NIA said it “follows the policy of fairest possible investigation” and also that “significant leads have emerged in Pulwama attack case and a breakthrough in the case is expected shortly”.
The NIA’s clarification came hours after the Congress slammed the agency for its “lackluster” approach to the case and said it was an insult to the Pulwama martyrs.
Hitting out at the NIA, senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel said: “Shocked to know that the Pulwama accused got bail because the NIA is so busy that it failed to file the charge sheet. It’s an insult to the martyrs. Clearly, the government used this tragic attack for political purposes and was never serious about justice.”
Forty CRPF personnel, traveling in a convoy on the Jammu-Srinagar highway, were killed on February 14 last year when a suicide bomber rammed a car loaded with explosives into their bus in Awantipora in Pulwama district. Following the attack, banned terror outfit JeM claimed responsibility and even released a video of the purported attacker.