'17 lives lost in blast, I'll be the 18th victim'

“Seventeen lives were lost in German Bakery blast. I shall be the eighteenth victim,” said Mirza Himayat Baig, hours before being awarded the death sentence yesterday.

Additional Sessions Judge NP Dhote allowed Baig to put forth his views on the quantum of punishment, before he announced the sentence. After a brief pause, Baig again asked if he was allowed to say whatever he wanted to. As the judge nodded in response, the convict presented two pages written in Devnagari, and sought the court’s permission before reading them out.

He told the court that he was innocent and was victim of a conspiracy hatched by ATS chief Rakesh Maria, inspector Dinesh Kadam and assistant commissioner of police Vinod Satav.

Baig was produced before the judge amidst tight security, and the courtroom was full of policemen, media persons and lawyers. Plainclothes sleuths of Crime Branch, Special Branch, State Reserve Police Force (SRPF), Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad (BDDS), Quick Response Team (QRT) and members of the State Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) were posted.

Clad in an off-white striped shirt and brown trousers, Baig appeared extremely tense and was seen having conversation with an ATS officer accompanying him. After being called to the dock, he said that he had faith in Allah and that he was innocent. He said that he hails from a poor family and, considering the lack of education in his community, he always wanted to do something good.

In connection with the Aurangabad Arms Haul Case of 2006, when Baig was mentioned as one of the absconders, he said that he had not run away and was at his residence only considering that many innocents were picked by police.

Baig broke down several times during his narration and his voice was shaky as he read out the two pages. He claimed that he had never seen RDX and knew that it was only kept by the military. Baig maintained that ATS had failed to arrest the real culprits. He told the court that he had faith the truth willcome to the fore. He also pleaded for mercy before the court.

When contacted ATS chief Rakesh Maria said, “Throughout the trial he never accused me or any other ATS sleuth that he was falsely implicated by us. However, it is strange that he spoke in this manner when he was given a chance to present his ‘say’ before the sentence was given out.

” He added that he was very happy about the conviction and gave credit to teamwork. “We worked in a sundry and odd conditions and made a strong prosecution case,” he said. 

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