11/7 sentencing: Planters get death, 7 others get life
Nine years after the 11/7 serial train blasts killed 188 and injured over 800, justice was finally served, as the special MCOCA court yesterday sentenced the five bomb planters to death, reserving life imprisonment for the remaining seven terrorists convicted in the case.
One of the convicts looks for his relatives from the police van on his way to court on Wednesday. The accused had not been allowed to meet their families since their conviction, but they caught a glimpse of their loved ones outside the courthouse yesterday. Pic/AFP
The sentencing took place around noon, and calling the convicts in quick succession, Judge Yatin D Shinde pronounced the sentences within ten minutes. He first called out the names of five planters — Ehtesham Siddiqui, Asif Khan, Mohammad Faisal Shaikh, Naveed Khan and Kamal Ahamed Ansari – who were handed the death sentence.
Then he called out the names of the other seven (Dr Tanvir Ahmed Ansari, Shaikh Alam Shaikh, Mohammad Sajid Ansari, Mohammad Majid Shafi, Muzzammil Shaikh, Soheil Mehmood Shaikh and Zamir Ahmad Shaikh) and sentenced them to life imprisonment.
The accused were sentenced and fined under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, the Railways Act of 1989, Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act of 1984, Explosives Act of 1884, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, MCOCA and the Explosive Substances Act.
None of the accused broke down, and neither did they express hopelessness as they told mid-day that they had expected the same result and that they would contest it in the High Court. After the sentencing, the accused were brought out of the courthouse and made to stand in a block outside.
Here, they could not only speak to their lawyers, but could also see their family members standing in the building opposite. As the accused had not been allowed to meet their families since their conviction, they used this opportunity to communicate with their loved ones through gestures.
The 12 convicts were present outside the courthouse till evening, as they finished the required procedures. The defence requested for a copy of the judgment, which the judge said he would provide soon. The defence then asked that the convicts not be moved out of Arthur Road Jail until the judgment copy was handed over, and the judge replied in the affirmative.
Miscarriage of justice, say defence lawyers
Just like broad daylight, the innocence of the convicts is clear. 101 per cent we will challenge this verdict in the higher court. The judgment is an injustice to even the victims, both dead and injured and their families. They have been falsely impressed upon to believe that these are the right convicts and perpetrators. We respect the court's decision, but it is against the principles of justice. We will continue our fight for justice. Despite seeking leniency, they were sentenced to death. — Wahab Khan, Defence advocate
In my entire career, this is the strongest case for acquittal that I have seen. They are absolutely innocent and have been convicted in a false case with fake evidence. The so-called 11 confessions taken by 11 DCPs all have the same mistakes. The two other planters are also missing. Why were such lacunae ignored? This is very disappointing and a grave miscarriage of justice. We are cent per cent sure that we will get an acquittal in the Bombay High Court.
— Sharif Shaikh, Defence advocate
This was not even a fit case for conviction, let alone the death sentence. They are as innocent as newborns and as pure as a ray of light. It is a miscarriage of justice.
— Yug Chaudhary, Defence advocate
Sentenced to death
We know that we are all innocent and even the public prosecutor and ATS know it. But what did the court do… Are we not Indians? In the blast, 188 people died, but add the 12 of us as well, as even we are victims in this case.
— Mohammad Faisal Shaikh
I have faith in the higher court. Whatever happened today was something I had expected from day one. But God is great; every time there cannot be atrocity towards us. Anyone from the jail can speak on my behalf, about my behaviour.
— Naveed Khan
I had never visited Maharashtra until I was arrested. The court’s decision is definitely not right, but I have faith in higher court. I have no roots in Mumbai. My family has never visited me even once since I was arrested. I have been falsely implicated in the case.
— Kamal Ahmed Ansari
Our defence was strong but the court did accept it because it would have revealed the false case of ATS. But I have faith in the higher court.
— Ehtesham Siddiqui
ATS is a corrupt agency and we were implicated so that they could save their case. The ATS officers are being protected. Even we are victims in this situation; the five of us should also be added to the death toll of the blasts. If the victims approach us, we can tell them how innocent we are.
— Asif Khan
Calling the convicts ‘merchants of death’, the prosecution had last week sought death penalty for eight of the 12 convicts. Following the sentencing yesterday, Special Public Prosecutor Raja Thakare told mid-day, “The court has independently applied its mind and delivered the sentence, which was not based just on what the public prosecutor had asked for.”