2006 Mumbai serial train blasts case: 2 convicts appeal against their conviction before HC
Two of the convicted accused in the 2006 Mumbai serial train blast case, Dr Tanveer Ansari (accused number 2) and Zameer Shaikh (accused number 11), who were sentenced to life imprisonment by the special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court in September 2015, have filed separate appeals in the Bombay high court (HC), seeking setting aside of the convictions. According to their lawyer, advocate Ishrat Khan, the appeals will come up for hearing in due course.
Ansari and Shaikh were convicted on various counts under the MCOC Act, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) (UAP) Act and the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
According to the appeals, the main contentions raised by both convicts is that their trial was not fair and was based merely on circumstantial evidence and confessional statements that were taken from the appellants under duress by the anti-terrorism squad (ATS) after they were arrested.
Ansari and Shaikh along with nine others were convicted for being part of the conspiracy to set off massive blasts in the first-class compartments of seven trains on the Western Railway (WR) line on July 11, 2006. The blasts killed 209 people and injured over 700 others. Ansari and Shaikh were detained and arrested on July 20 and July 23, 2006, respectively.
According to the appeals, both had been falsely implicated in the case and were made accused on the grounds that they had conspired along with the other accused to plan the serial train blast by carrying out recces of the trains. Ansari was accused of visiting Pakistan and getting trained by the terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET), while Shaikh was accused of facilitating the travel of some of the accused to Iran under the pretext of a pilgrimage.
Advocate Ishrat Khan said that the appeals were filed as both Ansari and Shaikh were innocent and had been falsely implicated. He said the ATS had recovered their confession by subjecting them to torture and had made them sign on pre-written confessions which were later withdrawn by both. Khan further added that though the ATS had not been able to submit any concrete evidence against the two, the trial court had not taken cognisance of the same, but had based its judgement on circumstantial evidence.
The appeals have further stated that the statements of the witnesses and panchas were also weak and some of them seemed to be picked up directly from unrelated cases in Madhya Pradesh and Telangana and submitted before the trial court.
In light of the above averments and the fact that both convicts have already spent 14 years in prison, the appeals have prayed for setting aside of their convictions. Khan said that the appeals have been admitted and are expected to come up for hearing in due course.