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Death for three in 2003 Mumbai bomb blasts case

Staff Reporter

The explosions claimed 54 lives and injured 244 people

— Photos: VIVEK BENDRE and AFP

Haneef Sayyed and Ashrat Ansari (behind him) coming out of the Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai on Thursday. At right, Haneef’s wife Fahmeeda being brought out of the Byculla Women’s Jail before being taken to court.

Mumbai: A special Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) court here on Thursday sentenced to death all the three persons convicted in the bomb blasts case of 2003. The explosions claimed 54 lives and injured 244 people.

The case comprises blasts at the Gateway of India and Zaveri Bazaar on August 25, 2003, the blast aboard a bus at Ghatkopar on July 28, 2003 and the planting of a bomb in a bus in the Santa Cruz Electronics Export Processing Zone on December 2, 2002, which, however, did not explode.

Judge M.R. Puranik, after pronouncing the sentence against Haneef Sayyed, his wife Fahmeeda and Ashrat Ansari, said they “shall be hanged by the neck till they are dead.”

They were sentenced under three Sections: 120B of the Indian Penal code (IPC) for hatching a criminal conspiracy to cause bomb blasts, 120B read with Section 302 (punishment for murder) of the IPC, and 120B read with 3 (2) (a) of the POTA, stipulating the punishment for a terror act.

They were given life term under Section 120B read with 307 (attempt to murder) of the IPC. Life term was awarded for offences under POTA’s Sections 3 (3) for attempting to commit a terrorist act and 4 (b) for unauthorised possession of arms. They were also given life term under Section 3 of the Explosive Substances Act, 1908 (punishment for causing explosion likely to endanger life or property).

Fahmeeda broke down on coming out of the court. Her son and mother had come to the court and the family spent a long time together. Haneef remained composed, while Ashrat reportedly shook hands with lawyers and police officers outside the court.

Retired ACP Suresh Walishetty, who was the investigating officer, said: “This is the first POTA case where death penalty has been given. The accused deserved it and so did Fahmeeda.”

Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam told journalists, “This is an important address, as 54 people lost their lives because of these demons.”

Haneef, Fahmeeda and Ashrat were given two-year rigorous imprisonment each under Sections 120B read with 427 (causing damage to the amount of Rs. 50) of the IPC, and 5 read with 9B (contravention of rules on use of explosives) of the Explosives Act. They were given 20-year jail term under Section 4 of the Explosive Substances Act, 1908 (punishment for attempt to cause explosion).

Under Section 3 of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1984, they were awarded five-year imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 1,000 each. Under Section 4 of this Act, they were given seven years’ imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 2,000 each.

The three were acquitted under Section 120B read with 5(1) and 20 of POTA, and Sections 5 and 6 of the Explosive Substances Act.

All the sentences will run consecutively. Haneef’s lawyer Wahab Khan said an appeal would be filed in the High Court.

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