Terrorist Rashid Khan, who has been serving a life imprisonment sentence for his involvement in the 1993 Bowbazar bomb blast case, has been given a parole of 90 days. Throughout his jail term, he has been on a collective parole of 93 days, granted in 10 terms. However, this time, due to the outbreak of coronavirus, the convicted terrorist was granted parole extending for 3 months at a go.
This decision by the WB Government to grant parole to a dangerous criminal serving a life sentence has invited criticism, as it violates the Supreme Court order to states to decongest prisons by considering releasing those prisoners on parole who are convicted or charged with offences having jail term of up to seven years.
Along with Rashid, another 21 convicts serving life sentences have also been released on parole of 90 days. After being released from Presidency Jail on Thursday, Rashid returned to his residence in Fierce Lane, Bowbazar. It is being reported that police surveillance has been notched up in the location.
Rashid Khan was an associate of terror don Dawood Ibrahim and confessed to making bombs to target Hindus of Kolkata, to avenge demolition of the Babri masjid built over Ram Mandir in Ayodhya.
Just days after the serial blasts which rocked Mumbai, on the night of 17 March 1993, a huge explosion went off in the crowded central Kolkata residential area, Bowbazar. The blast claimed at least 69 people, as it destroyed two residential buildings that came crumbling down in flames.
Bowbazar has always been a densely populated area mostly consisting of low-income groups. The area is surrounded by gold jewelry and furniture shops, and shares a close proximity to the milestone Writer’s building and the police headquarters. While the official casualty count is given as 69, it is feared many more could have perished.
Mohammad Rashid Khan, who was a notorious sattabaz, i.e, don of gambling, was found to have stockpiled huge quantity of explosives like RDX in his office to make bombs that went off accidentally. Khan and 7 of his accomplices were charged, and six men were convicted in 2001 and given life term under various sections of TADA, IPC and explosives substances act – Rashid Khan, Md. Khalid, Guljar, Panna Jaiswar, Murtaja and Khalid. Two accused, Pervez and Imtiaz, were absconding.
But the CPM and later TMC Governments have both tried to get an early release for the convicted terrorist Rashid Khan. The left ecosystem praised Khan for his ‘exemplary conduct’ and ‘religiosity’ to prepare grounds for his early release. However a 2012 ruling by Supreme Court that a lifer convicted under a central Act (like TADA) cannot be released by a state, put paid to these plans.
But under the guise of decongesting prisons for the Covid19 outbreak, the dangerous terrorist responsible for the deadliest blast in post-independence Kolkata has been granted a huge respite.
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