The special POTA court on Wednesday sentenced three convicts of the triple blasts of 2002-03 — bomb planter Muzammil Ansari, Farhan Malik Khot and Dr Wahid Abdul Ansari — to life imprisonment.
Haseeb Mulla, Wahid Ansari, Ateef Mulla, Muzammil Ansari, Gulam Khotal, Farhaan Khot and another convict in the Mumbai triple blast case being produced in court on Wednesday. Pics/PTI
Key accused and SIMI operative Saquib Nachan, Ateef Nasir Mulla, Gulam Akbar Abdul Sattar Khotal and Hasib Zubier Mulla — who were convicted under POTA and Arms Act — were awarded a jail term of 10 years.
Three other convicts — Mohammed Anwar Ali, Mohammed Kamil and Noor Mohammed — were given a two-year jail term.
The court also slapped a heavy fine amounting to lakhs of rupees on the convicts — 75 per cent of which will be paid to the District Legal Services Authority (DSLA) and the rest to Central Railway (CR) as compensation for the blast at the Mulund station.
Short of rarest of rare
The prosecution had sought a death penalty for Muzammil. To this, judge PR Deshmukh said, “…Muzammil just falls short of the rarest of the rare case. I am not inclined to endorse a death sentence for Muzammil.... I am of the view that if a person is hanged, within a fraction of a second, his life comes to an end and he does not realise or feel the mental, emotional and physical pain which the victims of the crime or the dependents of deceased suffered or are suffering.”
On awarding the compensation to DSLA and CR, instead of the victims or their dependents, he said, “There is no sufficient material on record [on the compensation], though some injured witnesses admitted about the receipt of compensation from the railways. Hence, there is difficulty in awarding compensation to the victims and dependents.”
During his deposition, an investigating officer told the court that in his statement, Nachan had disclosed that he, along with his brother, Atif, had visited Kalyan two months before the first blast that rocked Mumbai in 2002.
There, a Pakistani national, Irfan Karim, gave him an AK-56 rifle, a pistol, the key to a flat of Mohammad Nadeem Paloba (who was acquitted of all charges by the court) and some documents. The consignment was later traced by the police to a medical store. The court accepted the prosecution’s case against Nachan.
Muzzamil, on the other hand, was nailed by direct evidence from six eyewitnesses who saw him either place the bags containing the bombs or in their vicinity.
His confession that he was a key part of the conspiracy, the recovery of chemicals and explosives from him and the forensic report that matched the chemicals found at the blast sites with those seized from him sealed his fate.
Just two more years, says Nachan
After the court pronounced the sentences, Saquib Nachan, accompanied by his wife, told mid-day that he had already served eight years in jail, which left him with just two more years to complete his term.
Apart from the POTA case, other cases, including a conviction in a TADA case at Gujarat, Nachan has served all sentences. “I will be out of jail in two years. I am grateful to the court for the verdict.”