A National Investigation Agency court in Delhi has granted bail to an accused in the 2019 Pulwama attack after the agency failed to file a chargesheet against him in the stipulated time period, Live Law reported on Thursday. However, the agency on Thursday dismissed reports and said the man who was given bail was an accused in a terror conspiracy case and not the Pulwama attack.
The agency clarified that Yusuf Chopan was granted bail on February 18 after sufficient evidence could not be gathered against him. Chopan was sent back to Kot Bhalwal Jail in Jammu under Public Safety Act, the NIA added.
The lawyer for the accused had moved Chopan’s bail application on the grounds that he had been in custody for 180 days. The period for investigating Chopan’s alleged role in the terror conspiracy case ended on February 11.
The NIA conceded in court on February 18 that it had not been able to find sufficient evidence against Chopan to file a chargesheet. However, the agency added that it was still investigating him.
Judge Praveen Singh accepted the accused’s argument and allowed the bail application, subject to a personal bond of Rs 50,000 and a surety of like amount. Singh also ordered Chopan to cooperate with the investigation and to present himself before the court whenever required to do so. The court said that Chopan must not induce or influence any person capable of providing information about the case, or tamper with the evidence.
On February 12, the NIA had filed a supplementary chargesheet against four Jaish-e-Mohammad aides of alleged attack mastermind Mudassir Khan. Khan was killed in an operation by Indian security forces last year. The four aides are Sajjad Ahmad Khan, Bilal Ahmad Mir, Ishfaq Ahmad Bhat and Mehraj-ud-Din Chopan. All of them are residents of Pulwama district in Jammu and Kashmir.
At least 40 soldiers of the Central Reserve Police Force were killed in the attack on February 14 last year. In retaliation, the Indian Air Force bombed an alleged Jaish-e-Mohammad camp in Balakot in Pakistan on February 26. The NIA on Thursday claimed the case would soon see a “breakthrough” as significant leads were being pursued.
Corrections and clarifications: This article has been updated with the NIA’s denial that the man granted bail was not an accused in the 2019 Pulwama terror attack case, but in a different terror conspiracy case.