Thirteen years after three blasts rocked the city between December 2002 and March 2003 killing 12 people and injuring 139 others, a designated Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) court on Tuesday convicted 10 people and acquitted three.
The police said this is the first blast where banned organisation Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and members of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) conspired to conduct blasts. The court will hear arguments on the sentencing from Wednesday onwards.
The prosecution claimed former general secretary of SIMI Saquib Nachan, along with LeT member Faisal Khan, Pakistani nationals and 23 other accused were involved in the case. Of the 24 accused, five, including Khan, who was killed in an encounter, are dead, while six other accused remain absconding.
While pronouncing the verdict, designated POTA judge PR Deshmukh said, “The case is going on for 13 years for the prosecution and for the defence… I have tried to appreciate both the evidence. You know this is the trial court and not the last court. Some might be pleased and some might not. I have tried to give justice.”
The accused, apart from Nachan, who are convicted are Ateef Mulla, Hasib Mulla, Muhammed Kamil, Noor Malik, Anwar Ali Khan, Gulam Khotal, Farhaan Khot, Dr. Wahid Ansari and Muzammil Ansari. Adnan Mulla, Harroon Lohar and Nadeem Paloba were acquitted for lack of evidence.
Special public prosecutor Rohini Salian said, “Our case was not for the blast primarily. It was for the preparatory act of the accused for committing terrorist activities in and around the city and wage a war against the nation and establishment.” Salian said the conspiracy began in May 2001 and the convicts were found with weapons. “They had gathered sophisticated weapons and explosives, which were used to train to the youth in the hills of Padagha in Thane,” Salian said.
The prosecution had also pointed out the accused had planned to attack several political leaders attached to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), for which they had gathered several sophisticated weapons.
The accused had been booked for hatching a conspiracy to conduct terror activities in the city and collecting men and explosives that were later used in terror attack and also for training youth to carry out the blast.
On December 6, 2002, a bomb exploded in a fast-food outlet at Mumbai Central railway station where 25 people were injured. A month-and-a-half later, on January 27, 2003, a bomb planted on a bicycle exploded outside Vile Parle railway station, killing Anita Indulkar, 35, and injuring 32 others. On March 13, 2003, another bomb exploded in the women’s first-class compartment of a Karjat-bound fast train as it approached Mulund station where more than 82 people were injured.