A designated Prevention of Terrorist Activities (POTA) Act court had, on July 27, 2009, held three accused, including a woman, guilty in the 2003 Gateway and Zaveri Bazaar blasts. A week later, designated judge MR Puranik handed down the death penalty to Ashrat Ansari, 35, Hanif Sayed Anees, 49, and his wife Fehmida, 46.
The designated court had held them guilty under section 120-b (conspiracy), 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder) and 427 (mischief causing damage) of the Indian Penal Code and under Section 3 (terrorist acts), 3(3) Conspiracy, 3(4) (voluntary harbouring a terrorist) of POTA, 4 (possession of arms) and 4(b) possession of explosives. They were also held guilty for other minor offences.
On August 6, 2009, the trial court handed down capital punishment to the trio on major charges of maiming innocent people through a terrorist act, and for the conspiracy.
On August 25, 2003, two powerful blasts rocked the Gateway of India and Zaveri Bazaar killing 54 people and injuring 244. Pakistani terrorist outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba had used a family for the first time to carry out the blasts.
On the day of the blasts, Hanif, Fehmida and their daughter had boarded a taxi from Andheri to the Gateway and left their bag in the vehicle, telling the taxi driver they would return after lunch. The bomb exploded in the taxi after the driver, who identified the family in the court, left the taxi to have his own lunch.
Ansari had boarded another taxi to Zaveri bazaar and he, too, left his bag in the taxi, saying he would return, but the vehicle exploded shortly thereafter.
The couple’s 16-year-old daughter was arrested for the offence but was later discharged as she was a minor. Two other accused, Mohammed Ansari Ladoowala and Mohammed Hasan Batterywala, were also discharged by the POTA court after the Supreme Court upheld a POTA review report that said there was no case against them.
The LeT's role in the twin blasts was, however, revealed by an accused-turned-approver, whose testimony helped the prosecution prove the guilt of the three. The approver had provided details of the conspiracy meeting in Dubai and attended by the outfit’s activists from Pakistan.