The sessions court, on Monday, convicted two of the six accused arrested in connection with the 2008 Thane, Vashi and Panvel blasts.
On June 4, 2008 a bomb exploded in the parking lot of Gadkari Rangayatan theatre in Thane. On May 31, 2008, a bomb exploded at Vishnu Bhave Auditorium in Vashi and on February 20, 2008, a bomb was found at Panvel’s Cineraj cinema hall. The Maharashtra State Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) had arrested six men — Ramesh Gadkari, 55, Vikram Bhave, 29, Mangesh Nikam, 37, Santosh Angre, 34, Dr Hemant Chalke, 40, and police patil Haribau Divekar, 45.
The court convicted Gadkari and Bhave under sections 324 (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offense, or giving false information to screen offender) and 427 (mischief causing damage to the amount of Rs50) of the Indian Penal Code and sections of Explosive Act, Explosive Substance Act and Destruction of Property Act. The other four have been acquitted of all charges for lack of evidence.
The court also acquitted the six accused of charges under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, which is usually invoked against terrorists. Pronouncing the verdict, sessions judge NV Nhavkar said the evidence was “circumstantial in nature because of which it could not be proved beyond reasonable doubt that it was an act of terror.”
All the accused were acquitted of attempt to murder charges, which were pressed as seven were injured in the Thane blast. The court will hear arguments on the quantum of sentencing on Tuesday.
The accused allegedly belonged to Sanatan Sanstha, a Hindu revivalist group, which protested against Amhi Pachpute, a satirical play based on Mahabharata, to be staged at Gadkari Rangayatan the gods and goddesses in poor light.