Mumbai train blast victims Kin believe justice “only after accused are hanged”

Lata Jain

Nine years after a series of bomb blasts in suburban trains rattled Mumbai killing 188 people, a special MCOCA Court on Wednesday  awarded death penalty to five and life sentence to seven others, all convicted in the 7/11 serial blasts.. Altogether 189 people were killed and 817 were maimed.

The five who have been given the death penalty have been convicted under various sections, including those of the Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act, Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and the Indian Penal Code.

Mohd Faisal Shaikh, 36, Asif Khan, 38, Kamal Ahamed Ansari, 37, Ehtesham Siddiqui, 30, and Naveed Hussain Khan, 30, was awarded death sentence.

The defense lawyer Sheikh however has said that the convicted will move the higher court against the MCOCA court’s verdict. The court has convicted all of the accused. They are innocent. They were rather the victims. The court has somewhere committed a mistake. It has not made efforts to find the truth. Whatever the advocates and the accused could do, they did. We will challenge the case in the high court. We will file an appeal and our team is hopeful that justice will be delivered and all innocent boys will be acquitted in the case.” Sheikh added.

On the other hand, special public prosecutor Raja Thakare called the convicts “merchants of death” and pressed for capital punishment to eight of the twelve convicts.

The court also found all the 12 accused guilty under Section 3 (1) (i) of MCOCA, which attracts capital punishment.

During the investigations, 13 accused all of them Indians, were arrested and brought to trial.
The charge sheet filed by Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) in November 2006 had named 30 accused, out of which 17 of them are absconding.

The absconding — 13 Pakistan nationals– include Azam Chima, member of Pakistan based Lashkar-e-Taiba.

After 12 accused were found guilty, Judge Shinde had allowed the defense lawyers to examine witnesses to bring out the mitigating circumstances in the case.

On July 11, 2006, several bomb blasts ripped through Mumbai’s local trains in a synchronized attack in the evening peak hours in Borivli, Churchgate, Virar, Matunga, Khar, Jogeshwari.

Two of the accused — Faisal Sheikh and Asif Khan Bashir Khan alias Junaid — have been identified by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad as the main conspirators of the attacks.

Faisal, who planted a bomb which went off at Jogeshwari station, is accused of working for Lashkar-e-Taiba’s Pakistani commander-in-chief Azam Cheema, an absconding accused and also among the key conspirators in the incident.

Co-conspirator Junaid allegedly procured bags, utensils, ammonium nitrate and detonators.

Justice will be done only after the convicts are hanged to death. We have lost our son. What happened to us should not happen to anyone else in future. A strong message has to be sent by our judicial system that such acts will not be dealt with lightly,” Parag’s father Jayprakash said. Parag died in the blast. He is survived by his parents, wife, a minor daughter and a brother.

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