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13 years gone by, 3 convicts get life imprisonment in Mumbai Blast case

  • 13 long years and justice was finally served for the victims of the Mumbai blast of 2002-03. A special Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) court on Wednesday sentenced 3 of the 10 accused in the 2002-03 Mumbai High Court to life imprisonment.

    The three accused – Muzammil Ansari, Wahid Ansari and Farhaan Khot – all bomb planters were sentenced with the punishment of life imprisonment. The rest of the 7 of the 10 accused did not get the same punishment. Former general secretary of SIMI (Students Islamic Movement of India) Saquib Nachan, who was under heavy investigation for being the prime accused, was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment, along with Ateef Mulla, Hasib Mulla and Gulam Khota. Noor Malik, Anwar Ali and Muhammed Kamil were sentenced to 2 years imprisonment.

    The first three convicts to be called before the court were Saquib Nachan, Ateef Mulla and Hasib Mulla. The three were convicted under Section 4 (A) of POTA, 2002 and various Sections of the Arms Act. Nachan and Hasib, who have already spent around eight years in prison before being given bail, will have to complete less than a two-year term in prison. Ateef, who was the first accused to get bail, has spent two years and nine months in prison, leaving before him a sentence of around seven years.

    The next to be called were Mohammed Kamil, Noor Mohammed Ansari and Anwar Ali Khan, who were sentenced to two years of simple imprisonment for their offences under the Arms Act. With them having completed their terms, they will be let off after completing their court procedures.

    The next two convicts called before the court were Gulam Khotal and Farhaan Khot, who were convicted under Section 3 (3) of the POTA Act, Sections of the Arms Act as well as the Explosive Substances Act. The court distinguished between the two on the basis of the explosives found on the two, sentencing Khot to life term and Khotal to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment.

    Special POTA court judge P R Deshmukh began proceedings at 11.35 am, calling out names of the convicts in batches to appear in the witness box to pronounce the quantum of punishment. “I would like to start by saying that with this judgment, it would be the closing of the oldest POTA case which was time-bound by the Supreme Court and was completed by day-to-day proceedings,” the judge said. Though the draft charges were submitted to the court in 2003, the actual charges were framed only in 2014 because convict Nachan had moved the higher court challenging the clubbing of the case and maintainability of the POTA Act.

     

    OUR TAKE

    The Mumbai Blast case has been dragged from one court to another, without the victims getting any help or relief. 13 years is a long time and we believe that justice delayed is justice denied. Just like the Nirbhaya rape case, the victims have pleaded the justice system for timely proclamation of judgments. The speed at which the case has crawled has been way too slow. But finally justice has been provided. As curtains are drawn on one of the most horrendous bomb blast cases in the recent history of India, what we as a country should be proud about is the fact that although delayed, the wrong-doers have been punished. This might not be the last court which hears the case out, but a start in the right direction is better than no start at all.


     


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