Indian American Teen in Solitary Cell for 2 Years Waiting for Trial

Rutgers freshman Akaash Dalal has been charged with firebombing four synagogues in New Jersey and threatening to kill the prosecutor in his case.

Rutgers freshman Akaash Dalal has been charged with firebombing four synagogues in New Jersey and threatening to kill the prosecutor in his case.

By Indiawest

Following his arrest in connection with a series of bombings at four New Jersey synagogues, Rutgers Indian American freshman Akaash Dalal has spent the past two years in solitary confinement, holed up in a tiny, windowless cell waiting for trial, which is scheduled to begin Jan. 23, 2014.

“I talk to him every day. He has told me so many times, ‘Dad, I have done nothing wrong,’” Adarsh Dalal told India-West. “Before he is even tried, they are punishing him, torturing him, leaving him in an 8×6 room for 21 hours.”

“This is a complete violation of my son’s civil rights and no one has stepped forward to support him,” stated Adarsh Dalal, noting that his only son was born in the U.S.

Akaash Dalal, 19, is accused of masterminding a series of firebombs that went off in four New Jersey synagogues during December 2011 and January 2012. Akaash, who was initially charged with aggravated arson, conspiracy to commit arson and bias intimidation, allegedly conspired with Anthony Graziano, teaching him to make Molotov cocktail bombs which were then thrown at Jewish synagogues.

In the most heinous attack, Graziano allegedly threw a Molotov cocktail late night Jan. 11, 2012 at the Congregation Beth El in Rutherford, New Jersey, while Rabbi Nosson Schuman and his family were sleeping.

Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli told reporters after Akaash Dalal’s arrest: “It was Mr. Dalal that directed (Graziano) how to make a Molotov cocktail, how to throw it, and how to throw it in a way that would cause the most damage.”

Molinelli said the attacks were cleverly planned, not haphazard, and alleged that Graziano had been attempting to obtain a gun. A motive for the attacks has not been established. Adarsh Dalal said his son has several Jewish friends and is a peace-loving person who holds no enmity towards any race or culture.

After his arrest in March 2012, Akaash Dalal was held on $2.5 million bail, which was later reduced to $1 million.

Adarsh Dalal told India-West that he and his wife sold many of their possessions and mortgaged their house to come up with $1 million in bail. But on the day his wife Harsh went with the entire amount of bail to get her son released, FBI investigators said they had new evidence that Akaash was planning to obtain a gun, once released, to kill Bergen County assistant prosecutor Martin Delaney. The agency said it also had evidence that Akaash was planning attacks on government agencies, and had procured a list of his enemies.

Aakash’s bail was then increased to $4 million; Adarsh Dalal said the FBI has never been able to substantiate the additional charges against his son. Both Aakash Dalal and Graziano have pleaded not guilty.

In the two years since his arrest, Adarsh Dalal and his family have consistently stated that the teenager was in New Hampshire during the attacks, volunteering for Ron Paul’s presidential campaign. “I dropped Akaash at the airport and brought him back,” said Adarsh Dalal, noting that his son’s boarding passes have been considered insufficient evidence by prosecutors.

Though local press have reported that Graziano was a childhood friend of Aakash, Adarsh Dalal said he had never met the second suspect before and was unclear on how the young man came into his son’s life.

More than 200 people attended an evening community meeting Dec. 11 at the offices of TV Asia in Edison, New Jersey. The meeting was organized by the Indo American Cultural Society.

Peter Kothari, president of the Indo American Cultural Society, told India-West that attendees discussed how to help the Dalal family, including a campaign to put pressure on Molinelli to reduce Akaash’s bail.

“There are no facts that point to Akaash’s masterminding the attacks,” stated Kothari, repeating that the teenager was in New Hampshire, volunteering with Paul’s campaign.

The IACS and Dalal’s father have been unable to confirm Akaash’s work with the campaign during the time of the attacks. India-West was unable to find a source for the now defunct campaign.

Kothari alleged that Akaash Dalal was being used as a football between the Bergen County District Attorney’s office and the prominent local Jewish community.

“My son has no anger for anyone,” Adarsh Dalal told India-West. “His is a message of peace, not violence,” he said.