Baig found guilty on 14 counts
The 2010 German Bakery blast that shook Pune, and tremors of which were felt across the country, was by no means a one-man show. But a lone person stood in the dock inside the additional sessions court of Judge NP Dhote yesterday to bear the burden of guilt. 33-year-old Mirza Inayat Himayat Baig was convicted under various sections of Indian Penal Code, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and Explosive Substances Act. The court, however, acquitted him in sections 465 (forgery), 467 (forgery of valuable documents) and 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating) for the want of substantiation.
“Taking into consideration the evidences before me, I hold Baig guilty,” said Judge Dhote while delivering the verdict. The court agreed with the prosecution’s disputation that it was a “carefully planned and executed attack calculated to terrorise the public in general by causing extensive damage to life and property and that the primary objective was to undermine and reduce faith of the common citizen in the elected government and destabilise the system of law”. The quantum of punishment for the offences, which are punishable with death penalty, life term and three to seven years of rigorous imprisonment, will be pronounced on April 18.
No empty seats
The courtroom was packed to capacity with lawyers, media persons and police officials. The judge called Baig, who was sitting at the back dressed in a blue-striped shirt and grey trousers, to the dock and told him, “You have been held guilty based on the evidences presented in the case by the prosecution and the punishment prescribed under the various laws are up to death penalty, life imprisonment and seven years of imprisonment with fine.”
While addressing Baig, Dhote spoke to him in Hindi and explained to him about the various sections of IPC, UAPA and Explosive Substances Act, under which he has been convicted. He also told Baig that the court allows some time to submit his ‘say’ on the point of sentence and declared that the quantum of punishment will be pronounced on Thursday after hearing the submission of the convict. All this while Baig remained impassive and did not utter a single word.
“I think I have proved equal to the responsibility and trust which was bestowed upon me by the state government, and the role of Baig has been proved beyond any doubt,” said Special Public Prosecutor Raja Thakre. He added that he would now argue in court on April 18 for the maximum punishment to be handed out in the case.
“Six accused are still at large in the case. One absconding accused Zabiuddin Ansari has been arrested in the 26/11 case. However, the prosecution did not try him here. Baig, the only arrested accused, has been held guilty of conspiracy. But conspiracy cannot be done by only one person. I will argue for a lenient view on the sentence and after that we will appeal in Bombay High Court to get justice,” said defence counsel A Rahman.
Maharashtra ATS had arrested Baig, who ran a cyber cafe at Udgir in Beed district, on September 7, 2010, accusing him of hatching a criminal conspiracy with six others to attack the eatery frequented by foreigners and young collegians in Koregaon. According to the prosecution, the conspiracy to bomb the bakery was devised in Colombo in March 2008 when Baig visited the Sri Lankan capital to parley with Zabiuddin Ansari and Fayyaz Kazgi.
The six others who are out of ATS reach
Apart from Baig, the state Anti Terrorism Squad has named six other accused as co-conspirators and absconding in the case. They have been identified as Siddibappa Zarar alias Yasin Bhatkal, Riyaz Ismail Shahbandri alias Riyaz Bhatkal, Iqbal Ismail Shahbandri alias Iqbal Bhatkal (all three from Bhatkal town in Karnataka), Mohsin Choudhary of Pune, Fayyaz Kagzi alias Zulfikar Fayyaz Ahmad and Sayyad Zabiuddin Sayyad Zakiuddin Ansari alias Abu Jundal. Ansari has been arrested in connection with the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack case.
Court turns into fortress
To avoid any untoward incident on the premises and outside Shivajinagar court when Baig was presented before Additional Sessions Judge N P Dhote to hear the verdict, the city police turned the whole area into a fortress. Plainclothes sleuths of Crime Branch, personnel of the State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) sleuths of the state Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) and Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad were posted on the premises along with cops from Shivajinagar police station.
17 Number of people killed in the 2010 terror attack
60 Number of people injured in the bomb blast
103 Witnesses were examined