It was a day of life sentences across the country on Wednesday when a former minister, policemen, a lawyer and fundamentalist leaders were among 60 convicts who were given this punishment by courts for criminal acts in four separate cases.
The crimes ranged from bomb blasts in Coimbatore to target BJP leader LK Advani and murder of a pregnant poetess in Lucknow following an affair to killing of two businessmen in a fake police encounter in Delhi and burning nine persons alive during communal riots in Kanpur in the aftermath of the demolition of Babri Masjid mosque.
Several years after these crimes in which the lives of 78 persons were snuffed out for no fault of theirs, the kith and kin of some victims feel the convicts should be sent to the gallows.
As many as 1,479 witnesses were examined, a majority of them for the Coimbatore blasts case that killed 58 persons, after a painstaking trial with police on constant vigil to ensure there was no threat to the lives of some of the high profile accused.
In the Coimbatore blasts case, one convict had a compounded punishment of four life terms--the highest sentence in the case--though they run concurrently.
Founder-leader of the banned Al-Umma, SA Basha and its general secretary, Mohammed Ansari were among 31 convicts, who were awarded life imprisonment for conspiring to eliminate Advani during his visit to the city on February 14, 1998, by triggering a series of bomb blasts that claimed 58 lives. A majority of the convicts owe allegiance to Al-Umma.