All 5 IM extremists sentenced to life in 2013 Bodh Gaya serial blasts case
A series of nine bombs exploded in 30 minutes on July 7, 2013, around the Mahabodhi Temple complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Bodh Gaya, injuring five people.india Updated: Jun 01, 2018 15:50 IST
All the five Indian Mujahideen (IM) extremists, convicted in the 2013 Bodh Gaya serial blasts case, were sentenced to life imprisonment on Friday.
The special National Investigation Agency court had on May 25 convicted Umer Siddiqui (39), Azaharuddin Qureshi (25), Imtiyaz Ansari (35), Haider Ali (30), and Mujibullah Ansari (28) in the case under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, Unlawful Activity (Prevention) Act and the Explosives Act.
Besides the life term, the court also imposed Rs 10,000 penalty on the convicts, failing which their imprisonment would be increased by another six months, it said.
A sixth accused in the case was less than 18 years of age and sentenced to three years in remand home by a juvenile court last year, which found him guilty of involvement in the case.
At the Buddhist temple in Bodh Gaya, a UNESCO World Heritage site, they had planted 13 improvised explosive devices (IED), of which nine exploded between 5.30 am to 6 am on July 7, 2013.
Five persons, including two Buddhist monks, were injured.
The NIA special judge ADJ Manoj Kumar Sinha also awarded 14 years of imprisonment to one of the convicts, Haider Ali, under section 458 of IPC (lurking house-tresspass or house-breaking by night after preparation for hurt, assault, or wrongful restraint), and three years imprisonment to another convict Umer Siddiqui in sections 153a (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc. and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) and 120b (criminal conspiracy).
According to special public prosecutor (SPP), Manoj Kumar Singh, the court gave 10 years of sentence each to Haider, Mojibullah and Imtiyaz under section 120b.
The SPP told HT that all the accused got life sentence under sections of Unlawful Activity (Prevention) (UAPA) Act.
This is the first case of the NIA court in which the judgment was pronounced since its constitution on 2013. Altogether 90 witnesses were produced before the court from the prosecution side.
On November 4, 2013, the NIA after a thorough probe had said that the Indian Mujahideen was responsible for the blasts.
It had said that members of another extremist group, SIMI, had supported them in the mission. SIMI had allegedly hatched a conspiracy to target the Buddhist site to avenge alleged killing of Rohingya Muslims by the Myanmar army, it said.
The NIA had said that Haider Ali, who had been radicalised by SIMI member Umar Siddiqui in Raipur, Chhattisgarh, was the mastermind of the attack. He received explosives from Raipur and came back to Bodh Gaya. After reconnoitring the place a number of times, he entered the temple premises in the guise of a Buddhist monk.
Umar Siddiqui and Azharuddin Quraishi are natives of Chhattisgarh and the rest of the accused belong to Jharkhand.
All six accused in Bodh Gaya blasts were also involved in the Gandhi Maidan blast on October 27, 2013, that killed seven people and injured 89. The explosions were set off to disrupt Narendra Modi’s “Hunkar Rally” ahead of the 2014 general elections.
(With agency inputs)