Three Islamic terrorists convicted of 2003 Mumbai blasts that killed 52 people and injured 184
Posted by jagoindia on August 2, 2009
Three convicted of 2003 Mumbai blasts
Sentence to be pronounced on August 4
Mumbai: A special POTA court on Monday convicted three persons of carrying out bomb blasts at the Gateway of India and the Zaveri Bazaar here on August 25, 2003, killing 52 people and injuring 184.
This is the biggest judgment in a terror-related case since 100 people were convicted of the 1993 serial blasts two years ago.
Judge M.R. Puranik announced that Haneef Sayyed (46) and his wife Fahmeeda (43) from Marol and Ashrat Ansari (32) from Juhu Galli would be sentenced on August 4.
The three were held guilty of carrying out a bomb blast in a bus at Ghatkopar on July 28, 2003, which killed two people and injured 60, and of planting a bomb, which however did not explode, in a bus in the Santa Cruz Electronics Export Processing Zone.
They were convicted under Sections 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 427 (damaging property) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.
They were also convicted under Sections 3 (damaging property) and 4 (damaging property by fire or explosive) of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act; Sections 3 (causing an explosion to endanger life) and 4 (making an explosive to endanger life) of the Explosive Substances Act; and Sections 5 and 9B (licence for the use of explosives) of the Explosives Act.
The alleged mastermind of the blasts, who claimed to be a Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operative, had turned approver. The prosecution on Monday filed an application for his discharge from the case.
Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam called the conviction a blow to the LeT. He said this could be the last case to see convictions under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, since repealed.
The prosecution examined 103 witnesses and the defence, four. Hailing the verdict, Investigating Officer Suresh Walishetty said it was the fruit of their hard work.
To go on appeal
Defence lawyer Sushan Kunjuraman said: “I am shocked and surprised by the convictions. The prosecution’s case was very weak. Neither did the LeT ever take responsibility for the blasts nor did the prosecution prove that the accused were LeT operatives. The ones who assembled and handed over the explosives have been discharged, while the planters have been held guilty. We will appeal against this judgment.”
The three convicted were nailed by the testimony of taxidriver Shivnarayan Pandey, whom they had hired on the day of the blasts. Mr. Walishetty said: “His testimony was our clinching evidence. We will now ask the Public Prosecutor to demand maximum punishment.”
Investigations revealed that the blasts were carried out by members of the Gujarat Muslim Revenge Force to avenge the communal riots in the State in 2002. Two other accused — Ansari Ladoowala and Hasan Batterywala — were discharged from the case after a POTA review committee gave them a clean chit in 2005. The 16-year-old daughter of Sayyed and Fahmeeda was also an accused, but was later acquitted.
The police claimed that Nasir Ahmed, one of the conspirators, was killed in an encounter in September 2003. However, the couple and Ashrat Ansari were acquitted under Sections 5 and 6 (making or possessing explosives under suspicious circumstances) of the Explosive Substances Act. “These are very minor offences,” said Mr. Nikam. The accused were LeT operatives and had committed serious offences. “We will [therefore] argue for the highest punishment.”