A Ghaziabad court on Monday awarded life term to two terror convicts, including a Pakistani national, in the 1996 Modi Nagar bomb blast case. The court acquitted another accused, Taslim.
Sixteen people were killed and 48 were injured in the blast that took place in a Roorkee-bound UP Roadways bus on April 27, 1996, near Modi Nagar.
Additional district judge Mangal Prasad awarded life imprisonment to Abdul Mateen, a Pakistani national, and Mohammed Iliyaas for murder with common intention and criminal conspiracy.
According to the prosecution, Mohammed Iliyaas, a furniture maker, was arrested in June 1997 from his house in Ludhiana on a tip-off. The police recovered many railway tickets from Muzzafar Nagar to Jammu Tawi and Muzzafar Nagar to Ludhiana from his house, apart from a diary listing telephone numbers from the Kupwara area of Jammu and Kashmir.
However, the prosecution had a tough time as most of the witnesses had turned hostile during the trial. After seven of the key witnesses -- who had injured in the blast -- changed their statements in court, the prosecution had to build up the case based on circumstantial evidence.
Defending one of the convicts, Mohammed Iliyaas, lawyers argued that no explosive material had been recovered from him and the blast took place inside the bus due to short-circuit. Also, no circumstantial evidence was established against the accused.
Abdul Mateen’s lawyers argued that the explosion took place after a gas cylinder inside the bus caught fire. They dismissed the police’s claim that he was arrested after a tip-off. “The entire case primarily rested on circumstantial evidence as most of the witnesses turned hostile and we had to rely on extra judicial confessions,” said government counsel Rajendra Singh Kasana.
He added that the prosecution’s case was based on Iliyaas’s confession which was recorded in the presence of his father and brother.