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“Merchants of death” get stringent punishment by Mumbai court

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NewsGram Staff Writer

Mumbai: A special court on Wednesday pronounced death penalty to five people and life imprisonment to seven others for alleged involvement in July 11, 2006, serial blasts on Mumbai’s suburban trains. The blasts, one of the worst attacks on Mumbai, killed 189 people.

On September 11, Special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) Judge YD Shinde found all the 12 people guilty of their role in serial blasts in the suburban trains, which also injured 817 commuters rushing home during the peak hours that rainy evening.

Those awarded the death penalty were Kamal A  Ansari, 37; Ehtesham K Siddiqui, 30; Faisal Attaur Rehman Sheikh, 36; Asif Khan alias Junaid, 38; Naved Hussain Khan, 30.

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The seven who were awarded life term in jail were medico Tanvir A Ansari, 37; Mohammed Sajid Ansari, 34; Sheikh Mohammed Ali Alam Sheikh, 40; Mohammed Majid Shafi, 30; Muzammil Sheikh, 27; Soheil Mohammed Sheikh, 43; and Zamir Ahmed Sheikh, 36.

During the prolonged arguments of nearly three weeks on the quantum of sentence, Special Public Prosecutor Raja Thakre demanded death penalty for eight of the 12 convicts, terming them “merchants of death”.

A teacher, Abdul Wahid Sheikh, was the lone accused who was acquitted in the case, while another prime accused, Azam Chima, alleged to be linked with the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), is among the 17 who are missing and on the run. They include 13 Pakistani nationals.

Stunned by the punishment, relatives of the convicts who were awarded death sentence, said they would challenge the court verdict in the Bombay High Court.

Special Judge Shinde found that M Faisal Attaur Rehman Shaikh, who was awarded death penalty, went to Pakistan twice for training.

He also sent youth to Pakistan for training, harboured Pakistanis at his home, and received money by the hawala route.

Similarly, Kamal A Ansari was also trained in Pakistan, transported Pakistanis from the Nepal border to Mumbai, procured explosive material and planted the bomb which exploded in the suburban train at Matunga.

Naved Hussain Khan surveyed the trains, transported a bomb from Govandi to Bandra, planted one bomb on the train which exploded at Khar station.

Asif Khan alias Junaid procured the explosive material used to make the bomb, and planted one which exploded in the train at Borivali.

Ehtesham K Siddiqui, the Maharashtra joint secretary of banned organization SIMI, kept a vigil on local trains, transported Pakistanis to Mumbra in Thane district, was present when the bombs were made at a house in Govandi, and planted the bomb which exploded in the train at Mira Road.

Five among the seven convicts awarded life sentence were trained in Pakistan, while Mohammed Majid Shafi helped transport Pakistanis from Bangladesh border to Mumbai and then back to Bangladesh after the terror blasts.

Mohammed Sajid Ansari provided the electrical circuits for the bombs which went off with precision at the intended targets that evening.

He sought life terms for Mohammed Majid Shafi, Muzammil Sheikh, Soheil Mohammed Sheikh, Zamir Ahmed Sheikh, arguing that they were guilty of offences which attract multiple life imprisonments, so they should be sentenced to life till the end of the lives in jail, or not less than 60 years.

Arguing for stringent punishment to all the convicts, Thakre said the evening peak hour timings were chosen and the targets (packed suburban trains) on the Churchgate-Virar section showed their extreme mentality as it would inflict maximum casualties.

The trial continued for eight years in which the prosecution examined 192 witnesses, including policemen, civil servants, medicos, officials of various government departments, commuters, survivors and a person summoned as a court witness, with their deposition running into over 5,500 pages.

Starting at 6:23 pm, the seven powerful RDX-laden bombs ripped off trains at Matunga Road, Mahim, Bandra, Khar Road, Jogeshwari, Borivali and Mira Road stations spanning Mumbai and Thane districts.

The explosions, using around 15-20 kg of RDX, were so powerful that they blew off the double-layered steel roofs and walls of the seven train compartments.

The Anti-Terrorism Squad had claimed that the suspects belong to Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), LeT and the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI).

The trial started in June 2007, but was stayed in February 2008 after one of the 13 accused, Kamal Ansari, challenged the phrase ‘promoting insurgency’ in defining organised crime in the MCOCA as “unconstitutional”.

In April 2010, the Supreme Court dismissed his petition, which paved the way for the trial to resume.

(With inputs from IANS)

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Top 10 highlights of Abu Salem sentencing for the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case: Abu Salem gets life sentence, Feroz Khan and Tahir Merchant gets death penalty

The duration of punishment for the alleged gangsters of the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts - Abu Salem, Taher Merchant, Feroz Abdul Rashid Khan, Karimullah Khan, and Riyaz Siddiqui was announced today

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Highlights of Abu Salem’s sentencing
Highlights of Abu Salem’s sentencing. IANS

New Delhi, September 7, 2017: It has been 24 years since the atrocious 1993 Mumbai serial blasts happened. Finally, a special Terrorist and Disruptive Activity (TADA) Court court in Mumbai announced today the duration of sentence against the gangster Abu Salem and four other convicts- Taher Merchant, Feroz Abdul Rashid Khan, Riyaz Siddiqui, Karimullah Khan. Abu Salem and Karimullah Khan were given life imprisonment by the court whereas Feroz Khan and Tahir Merchant were given a death sentence. Riyaz Siddiqui is given 10 years of imprisonment.

Also Read: Flashback to Terror: 1993 Mumbai Blasts Judgement to Hail on June 27 After 24 Years

The mastermind behind the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case was Mustafa Dossa, the blasts took lives of 257 people and injured 713 others. On 16th June 2017, Mustafa Dossa was convicted by the Court. But, the case against Mustafa Dossa was later closed as on June 28 he died due to a fatal cardiac arrest while the sentencing arguments were in the process in court. The CBI did claim that Mustafa Dossa’s role in the Mumbai serial blasts was “more severe” than Yakub Memon (he was hanged in July 2015 in the same case). The other claim made by CBI was that the “main conspirators” were Mustafa Dossa, Taher Merchant, and Feroz Khan.

Top 10 Highlights of Abu Salem’s sentencing:

  • The court said that Abu Salem’s ‘close proximity’ to chief conspirators of the case Anees Ibrahim (Dawood Ibrahim’s brother) and Mustafa Dossa, made him transport and conceal arms and ammunition at various places.
  • The court said, “Feroz Khan is not Hamza Khan as claimed by him. He is the same Feroz Abdul Rashid Khan, who was declared a proclaimed offender in this case in 1993.” The court noted that Feroz was in fact ‘a prominent member’ of the Dossa gang and was also ‘actively involved’ in smuggling of arms and ammunition to India.
  • According to ANI reports, Ujjwal Nikam, Public Prosecutor said: “Convicts will get set-off for the time they have served in jail.”
  • Abu Salem and Karimullah Khan were sentenced to life imprisonment due to 2 separate counts each. The court ordered Salem and Karimullah to pay Rs 2 lakh fine.
  • Feroz Abdul Rashid Khan and Tahir Merchant were given the death sentence. As per CBI, “Feroz and Tahir were the main conspirators.”
  • Riyaz Siddiqui was given 10 years of imprisonment. He had been found not guilty of conspiracy but was convicted under section 3 (3) of the TADA(P) Act as he provided a vehicle to Abu Salem for transporting the vehicles.
  • Abu Salem was sentenced to life imprisonment by TADA court on charges of conspiracy and murder which were proven against him. After him, Karimullah Khan was sentenced to life imprisonment.
  • The death penalty could not be awarded to Abu Salem as he was extradited from Portugal in 2005 and India had signed an extradition agreement with Portugal.
  • “The TADA court had earlier convicted all of them except Riyaz Siddiqui under charges including murder, criminal conspiracy and other sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) – TADA Act, Explosive Substances Act, Explosives Act and Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act.
  • The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) asked for a death sentence for Feroz, Merchant, and Karimullah, and for Salem and Siddiqui- life imprisonment.

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