High court ridicules UP government for withdrawing case against Varanasi blasts

Opposition parties in Uttar Pradesh blasted the Samajwadi Party government on Friday a day after the Allahabad high court ridiculed the administration for withdrawing cases against two terror suspects in the 2006 Varanasi serial blasts case.

Swami Prasad Maurya, leader of the opposition in the UP assembly, welcomed the strong observations of the court against the government for withdrawing cases against terrorists, ''as it would amount to encouraging terrorism.''

Senior BJP leader Kalraj Misra also backed the court's strictures against the SP government. Pradip Mathur, a Congress leader, said the suspects who had been ordered released by the state government were not petty criminals, but faced terror charges.

The SP had in its election manifesto promised it would review charges against terror suspects as it did not want to harass 'innocent' people.

The government, led by Akhilesh Yadav, son of SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, had written to the district magistrates of Lucknow, Faizabad, Gorakhpur, Varanasi and Rampur, asking if there was sufficient evidence to prosecute suspects in the 2006 serial blasts and other attacks in UP.

The government on October 31 issued notifications seeking withdrawal of cases against those accused in the Varanasi serial blasts, in which 25 people were killed.

Two social activists then filed a public interest litigation in the Allahabad high court. Taking a stern view of the government notification, the court asked the government: ''Today, you are withdrawing cases against them. Tomorrow, will you give them the Padma Bhushan?''

The judges said it was for the court to decide whether those arrested were terrorists or not. It also sought the grounds for the withdrawal of cases against the two suspects.