While Tuesday’s verdict by the Special Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) court was a happy one for three men who were acquitted, it spelled doom for the 10 convicted in the 2002-2003 blasts case. Yesterday the 10 convicts gave their statements to the court regarding the quantum of their sentences.
Most of them asked for minimum sentences and leniency in the verdict. Their lawyers and prosecution would be continuing arguments on the quantum of sentence today.
Saquib Nachan, who was acquitted from the blast case and convicted for possession of certain unauthorized arms told the court, “I surrendered on my own after the direction of the High Court. A bomb-blaster will never come before a court.” Nachan said he has been in jail for 8 years. “Since June 2015, to present date I have been engaged with this court. For the past two years, I could not attend the other court for smaller case, which has 20 to 30 witnesses. During the course of trial I moved HC thrice for a CBI probe in the case.”
He further said, “I have suffered for 10 years. Till yesterday, I was facing a charge of waging war against the nation. He added, “In 2003, I had three kids. Now I am a grandfather. My father, who passed away last month, took me to the High Court and made me surrender. He asked me just one question, “tumne blast kiya kya” (Were you behind the blasts?) to which I said no. My father had faith in the judiciary. He said if you have not done the blast you would be okay.” Nachan ended by saying that he is praying for a minimum five-year sentence.
Muzammil Akhtar Ansari who has been convicted for the bomb blast said, “I am from a poor family. I am a mechanical engineer working in a shop.”
“At the time of arrest, I was the only earning member. I was falsely implicated. I respect the verdict of the court. My co-accused were falsely implicated and they gave false confessions. I have mental disorders and I tend to forget. During the time I was in jail I helped other accused in writing letters to their family. I also helped jail inmates to study. I am requesting for interim bail as I want to reside with family.”
Ateef Mulla said, “I was the first person to get bail. I have been in jail for three years. My family went through intense trauma after I was arrested. My father is a diabetic and a cancer survivor. My two-year-old son had a bone marrow transplant in August, 2015 and needs isolation, has to be taken to hospital after every 15 days.”
“My family is suffering and they are dependent on me. While on bail I have followed all the conditions, I do not have any other case against me and hence, a minimum sentence should be granted and some leniency should be given.”
“My financial condition is poor. The court had granted me with legal aid for my bail. I have my mother, grandmother and five sisters to look after.”
“I have an ill mother at home and there is no one to take care of her. I am innocent.”
I have been in jail for eight years. I am a cattle food supplier and my family is totally dependent on me.
“I was released on bail after six years and four months. My daughter met with accident and under gone surgery. I have a weak financial condition. Even after the bail I had a good record with no other case against me.”
“I have to take care of my mother and I have wife and three kids to look after as well. My financial condition is very weak.”
Dr Wahid Ansari
“I had my medical practice. Because of the case I do not get to work.”
“I was a lecturer at the National Academy in Pune. After my arrest, the academy had terminated my service. I have no previous cases. I am in a poor financial condition.”
'Accused should be hanged to death'
After listening to the statements given by accused in court, asking for a lesser sentence, Nandkishor Salvi, who lost his elder brother in the blast which took place in a train at Mulund said, “Because of their planning and conspiracy, innocent people have lost their lives, does their life have no value? They never cared for the life of innocent and now they are coming with all sorts of reasons. The court should not consider any such silly excuses; accused involved in blast should be hanged to the death. The wife and children of my brother suffered and not they, who say they want to look after their family.”
Books, memories of children keep Nachan company in jail
Saquib Nachan devours books in jail. Over the last 13 years, he has spent most of his waking hours reading up on laws and his case files, and making copious notes.
The 56-year-old, who was on Tuesday convicted for his role in the 2002-03 triple blasts, has been arguing his case himself since the case went for trial, earning him grudging praise from even special prosecutor Rohini Salian, who said he could make for a good lawyer.
His arguments in court have secured him acquittals in three murder cases.
Nachan told mid-day that he had been arrested when his youngest child — a daughter — was a year old. Memories of her and his two sons are all that keep him company in his 8x10 sqft high security cell in the Thane prison. The cell has a fan and a bathroom attached, but no window. Today, his two sons are married and have a kid each; the daughter is in school. Nachan’s late father was a sarpanch in Padgha.
Shaking the terror tag has been the family’s hardest task. “One of my sons wants to study sports management after his BCom, but he was blackballed because of the terror charges against me,” says Nachan.
He says he was a member of the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) from 1982-89, when the outfit was not banned and owns 30-40 acres of land in Padgha.