5 get death, 7 face life term

MUMBAI, Sept 30:

Nine years after serial bomb blasts ripped through suburban trains killing 189 people, a special court today sentenced to death five convicts and gave life term to seven others, all having links with banned terror outfit SIMI.
The court also slapped on the convicts a hefty sum of Rs 1.51 crore as fine, directing each one to pay over Rs 11 lakh.
Imposing death penalty on five convicts, the Judge Yatin D Shinde wrote in his order, “They shall be hanged by their neck till they are dead.”
All the convicts stood with a blank face and heard the verdict carefully while the Judge handed down the quantum of sentence to the guilty.
The five convicts who got capital punishment were Kamal Ahamed Ansari (37), Mohd Faisal Shaikh (36) Ehtesham Siddiqui (30), Naveed Hussain Khan (30) and Asif Khan (38).
They were held guilty under Section 302 IPC (murder) and Section 3(1)(i) of Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) which deals with organised crime.
Seven accused facing life term were Tanvir Ahmed Ansari (37), Mohammad Majid Shafi (32), Shaikh Alam Shaikh (41), Mohd Sajid Ansari (34), Muzzammil Shaikh (27), Soheil Mehmood Shaikh (43) and Zamir Ahmad Shaikh (36).
The judge handed over life sentences to the seven convicts under the provisions of IPC, Explosives Act, Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act and Indian Railways Act and MCOCA.
While 11 convicts have to pay over Rs 11 lakh each, the maximum fine of Rs 15.45 lakhs was imposed on Mohammed Faisal.
Outside the court, some convicts told reporters that they were dejected with the verdict of the trial court and will file an appeal in the Bombay High Court.
Naved, who was given death sentence, said, “I knew what was coming but I am hopeful that my innocence would be proved in the Higher Courts.”
Other death convicts Ehtesham and Asif too claimed that they were innocent and had been falsely implicated.
The serial blasts in seven Mumbai local trains on July 11, 2006 left 189 dead and 829 injured within a span of 10 minutes between Khar Road-Santacruz, Bandra-Khar Road, Jogeshwari-Mahim Junction, Mira Road-Bhayander, Matunga-Mahim Junction and Borivali. RDX bombs had exploded in the first class coaches of local trains during evening peak hours.
The Anti Terrorist Squad chargesheet said that Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) were made in a room in suburban Govandi and some Pakistani nationals were also present during the bomb-making. However, all of them are still absconding.
After the verdict, defence lawyers said the judgment was a grave ‘miscarriage of justice’ and they would challenge it in the Bombay High Court.
“There is absolutely no evidence against them, the boys are innocent. This case is not even fit for conviction,” said senior advocate Dr Yug Mohit Chaudhry. Other lawyers Sherif Sheikh and Khan Abdul Wahab said they were not happy with the verdict.
“The case was clear as a mirror and even a layman could say that it was a framed up case,” Wahab said.
Sheikh said the ATS had presented a concocted case. “I am cent percent sure that they (the convicts) will be acquitted by the Higher Courts,” he said.
Jamait-Ulema-e-Maharashtra, which had provided free legal aid to the convicts, also said they would appeal in the High Court against the verdict.
Former ATS chief KP Raghuvanshi, who led the investigation, said the verdict vindicated the efforts of the police.
“I am happy that the court has appreciated the evidence and given an appropriate quantum of punishment in the case,” he said.
Families of the victims hailed the verdict observing that justice has been delayed but not denied.
After a long-drawn trial, on September 11, the court convicted 12 of the 13 accused, all allegedly having links with banned SIMI, while acquitting Abdul Wahid Shaikh due to lack of evidence.
The court last week concluded hearing arguments on the quantum of sentence when special public prosecutor Raja Thakare demanded death penalty for 8 of the 12 accused, calling them “merchants of death”, while seeking life imprisonment for the remaining four.
The chargesheet filed by ATS in November 2006 had named 30 accused, out of which 17 of them are absconding.
Among the absconding are 13 Pakistan nationals, including Azam Chima, member of Pakistan based Lashkar-e-Toiba.
In the trial that ran for eight long years, the prosecution examined 192 witnesses, including eight Indian Police Service (IPS) and five Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers as well as 18 doctors.
The defence lawyers examined 51 witnesses and one person was called as a court witness.
The MCOCA judge had concluded the trial on August 19 last year. (PTI)


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