Prachi Pinglay

You may lie to me but how will you face God, judge asks accused

Mumbai: The TADA court on Thursday awarded different jail terms to six accused who played a part in landing and transporting of arms, ammunition and explosives used in the 1993 serial blasts in Mumbai. The court has sentenced 28 of the 100 convicted in the blasts case so far.

Special Judge P.D. Kode sentenced 75-year-old Sharif Abdul Gafoor Parkar, to 14-year rigorous imprisonment (RI) and a total fine of Rs. 3 lakh under Sections 3(3) (aiding and abetting a terrorist act) and 6 (enhancement of the punishment) of the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act.

The court has held Parkar guilty on two counts under Section 3(3) pertaining to association with Tiger Memon, showing him places for weapons training and for organising a meeting in Hotel Big Splash between Tiger Memon and customs officials.

Regarding the landing at Shekhadi on February 3 and February 9 1993, the judge noted that Parkar was not aware of the nature of goods of the contraband so he could not be convicted for conspiracy. However, he noted, that even after finding that the contraband had arms and ammunition, he carried on with the operation for personal gains. Parkar has been in jail since late March 1993 and he may be able to walk free if he pays the fine.

His son Mujeeb Parkar too was sentenced under Section 3(3) of TADA. However, his role was limited to procuring gunny bags to carry the contraband and help transport the same.

Mujeeb broke down on hearing his father's sentence. He held his father's hand and sobbed. When his sentence was pronounced he cried again and the judge told him to not do anything wrong in future. The judge said, "you may lie to me but how will you face God on judgment day?"

He was given a minimum sentence of five years and a fine of Rs. 25,000. However, he has served less than a year in jail and will have to complete the remaining sentence.

The judge sentenced Suleman Ghavte and Sayed Rehman Abdul Sheikh, two drivers from Mumbai who transported the contraband. Terming them "small fish" he said that the meetings regarding targets happened long after the transportation and by this time they had dissociated themselves from the conspirators.

He sentenced them to seven-year RI and a fine of Rs. 25,000 for "furthering the acts of conspiracy" under Section 3(3) of TADA. They have served three years in jail during the course of this trial.

Sarfaraz Phanse, son of Dawood Phanse, one of the main accused in the case was sentenced to nine-year RI and a fine of Rs. 25, 000 under the same section of TADA for carrying out the landing operation in "supervisory capacity." Sarfaraz has spent over 11 years in jail as an under-trial.

Another associate of Tiger Memon, Raju Jain was sentenced to seven-year RI and a fine of Rs. 1 lakh for assisting the conspirators with vehicles and manpower under Section 3(3) of TADA (aiding and abetting a terrorist act). The court held him guilty for purchasing jeeps and a scooter in the name of fictitious persons and transporting arms and ammunition. The scooter was given to Tiger Memon in 1992 and was used for triggering the explosion at Katha Bazaar on March 12 1993, which killed four persons. The jeeps have been forfeited.

The court also passed an order related to security for the media after one reporter was beaten up by the accused on Tuesday. The court directed the court registrar to enquire about the report from the local police station and submit the same to the court.

Film actor Sanjay Dutt has been asked to appear in court on Friday. However, it is unlikely that his sentence will be declared, Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam told media persons later.

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