Mumbai, April 6 (IANS) A Mumbai Special Court on Wednesday awarded life sentence to three of the accused for the 2002-03 triple bombings here that claimed 12 lives.
The three are the prime accused Muzammil Ansari and his associates Farhan Khot and Wahid Ansari.
Four others were given 10 years jail term including Saquib Nachan, the general secretary of the outlawed Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), Ateef Nasir Mulla, Ghulam Kotla and Hasib Zubeir Mulla.
Three convicts were given two years jail term by Special POTA Judge P.R. Deshmukh. They are Mohammed Anwar Ali, Mohammed Kamil and Noor Mohammed.
All the 10 accused were found guilty and and convicted by the Special Court on March 29, followed by arguments between special public prosecutor Rohini Salian and defence lawyers on the quantum of sentencing which ended on Tuesday.
That day, Special Judge Deshmukh acquitted three people – Haroon Lohar, Nadeem Paloba and Adnan Mulla – for lack of sufficient evidence against them.
Another five accused named by the investigators continue to be absconders in the case.
Linked by a common conspiracy, the three blasts occurred near McDonald’s eatery in Mumbai Central Terminus on December 6, 2002, in a Vile Parle market on January 27, 2003 and in a crowded ladies First Class compartment of a suburban train near Mulund on March 13, 2003, killing a total of 12 people and injuring 139 others.
In the first blast (December 6, two people died and over 50 were injured. In the second (January 27) one person was killed and 30 others were injured, while in the third blast (March 13) nine were killed and over 70 injured.
During the trial, the prosecution contended that Nachan, along with a Pakistani, Faisal Khan – linked to terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba – carried out the blasts along with others.
Of the 25 accused listed by police, a majority were nabbed in 2003, five died during the trial and five are still absconding.
Nachan has been sentenced for his role of arranging the required manpower, arms and ammunition while Wahid Ansari and some absconders have been punished for manufacturing the bombs.
Muzammil Ansari and another absconder-accused have been convicted and sentenced for executing the terror plot by planting bombs at the targeted locations.
The three cases – though far between and in different parts of Mumbai – were clubbed together by the court as they were linked by a common conspiracy angle.
The police had charged all the accused with murder, attempt to murder, causing grievous hurt, waging war against the nation, criminal conspiracy besides several charges under the Indian Penal Code, Railways Act, Arms Act, Explosive Substances Act and POTA.
Meanwhile, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind (JUeM) Maharashtra, which provided legal aid to the accused, expressed happiness that the capital punishment was spared but said it would challenge the verdict in the Bombay High Court.
A JUeM spokesperson also urged the government to set up fast-track courts to dispose off terror-related cases within two years so that the accused, who are finally acquitted, do not spend prolonged periods in jail.