Prachi Pinglay

MUMBAI: The sentencing in the 1993 serials blasts case continued, with former additional customs collector Somnath Thapa, 59, being sentenced to life imprisonment with a fine of Rs. 2 lakhs for his role in the conspiracy. The special TADA court also sentenced two more planters, one getting capital punishment and the other life imprisonment.

Thapa, 59, had been called to court last week but had not appeared citing medical reasons. Thapa, who was additional commissioner of Raigad region of Maharashtra had facilitated landing of arms and ammunition including RDX at Shekhadi in February 1993. He was found guilty under section 120(B) of the Indian Penal Code and section 3(3) of the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act.

Judge P.D. Kode noted that Thapa committed a terrorist act by not taking any action despite having knowledge of the conspiracy. He said that he actively aided and colluded with prime absconding Dawood Ibrahim, Tiger Memon and Mohammad Dossa to get the contraband into the city.

The court did not award the death sentence as he is suffering from lung cancer and prosecution did not press for maximum punishment, the judge observed.

Prior to that Judge Kode sentenced two more planters. Iqbal Shaikh, 34, was sentenced to death for involvement in the conspiracy. The court observed that Iqbal had taken another planter Naseem Barmare to Sahar airport where Barmare dropped hand grenades. Iqbal had also parked a scooter in central Mumbai near Dadar, which did not explode. Although he was found not guilty for terrorist acts resulting in death, the Judge said, “If a bomb does not explode because of technical problems then the accused will not get the benefit. Death sentence is awarded depending on the act, intent and furthering the object of the conspiracy.”

Iqbal was found guilty of acquiring weapons training, conspiracy meetings, abetting terrorist acts and preparing vehicle bombs at the Al Husseini building on the intervening night of March 11 and March 12 and has to pay a fine of over Rs. 2 lakh.

Bashir Khairulla, 39, was sentenced to life imprisonment, and a total fine amount of nearly Rs. 2 lakh. He was found guilty of accompanying the group which dropped hand grenades in Mahim fishermen colony.

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