Nine years after a series of bomb blasts in suburban trains rattled the metropolis killing 188 people, a special MCOCA court in Mumbai sentenced five of the 12 convicted in the case to death Wednesday while the remaining were awarded life imprisonment.
Delivering the verdict, Special Judge Yatin D Shinde pronounced capital punishment for Kamal Ahamed Ansari (37), Mohd Faisal Shaikh (36), Ehtesham Siddiqui (30), Naveed Hussain Khan (30) and Asif Khan (38), all of them bomb planters.
The remaining seven, who were spared the noose, are 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 blasts had ripped through suburban trains within a span of 10 minutes between Khar Road-Santacruz, Bandra-Khar Road, Jogeshwari-Mahim Junction, Mira Road- Bhayander, Matunga- Mahim Junction and Borivali.
The court had last week concluded hearing arguments on the quantum of sentence when prosecution demanded death penalty for eight of the 12 accused while it sought life imprisonment for the remaining four.
On September 23, the Special MCOCA court had reserved its order on sentencing in the case for September 30.
Earlier, on September 11, it had convicted 12 of the 13 accused, all allegedly having links with banned SIMI, while acquitting one.
The accused were found guilty of charges under IPC, Explosives Act, Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act and Indian Railway Act and those under MCOCA.
The court also found all the 12 accused guilty under Section 3 (1) (i) of MCOCA, which attracts capital punishment.
During the investigations, 13 accused, all of them Indians, were arrested and brought to trial.
The chargesheet filed by Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) in November 2006 had named 30 accused, of whom 17 are absconding.
The absconding — 13 Pakistan nationals– include Azam Chima, a member of Pakistan based Lashkar-e-Taiba.
After 12 accused were found guilty, Judge Shinde had allowed the defense lawyers to examine witnesses to bring out the mitigating circumstances in the case.
Defense lawyers subsequently examined nine witnesses to show the court that the accused have undergone reformation and may not be given capital punishment.
The list of witnesses included the relatives of accused, doctors, teachers and others while one of the convicts examined another accused in Mumbai 2012 serial blasts.
After the examination of witnesses, the defense advocates had pleaded leniency saying that the 12 convicts were merely the pawns of mastermind Cheema.
The defense advocates also pointed out that the convicts faced several hardships in jail and that was also one of the mitigating circumstances.
Special public prosecutor Raja Thakare termed the convicts “merchants of death” and pressed for capital punishment to eight of the 12 convicts.
Thakare told the court that (social) thinkers feel why money of honest taxpayers should be spent and government burdened for the upkeep of these convicts.
He also argued that the court may, if it feels, take a lenient view of four convicts and grant them life term.
Seven RDX bombs had exploded in the first class coaches in many suburban trains on July 11, 2006, killing 188 people and injuring 829.
The ATS charge sheet had said that Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) were made in a room in Govandi in suburban Mumbai and some Pakistani nationals were also present during the bomb-making.
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 defense lawyers examined 51 witnesses and one person was called as a court witness.
SOURCE: ASIA TIMES