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2007 Ajmer dargah blast case: Sentence pronouncement deferred to March 18

The scene at the dargah of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti in Ahmer after the blast on October 11, 2007.   | Photo Credit: Rohit Jain Paras

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) special court in Jaipur on Thursday postponed till March 18 the pronouncement on quantum of sentence to be awarded to the two convicts in the 2007 Ajmer dargah blast case. The convicts got a reprieve for two days following an objection raised by their counsel.

On March 8, the special court convicted Bhavesh Patel, Devendra Gupta and Sunil Joshi and fixed March 16 for the sentencing. The sentence is to be handed down to Bhavesh and Devendra, as Sunil Joshi, a former RSS pracharak, was murdered in December 2007.

The defence counsel contended that the court had convicted Bhavesh for planting two bombs inside the 13th century dargah of Sufi mystic Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, while Devendra, a native of Ajmer, was charged and convicted for taking part in hatching the conspiracy for bombing by arranging mobile SIM cards.

On this ground, the counsel raised objection to the conviction of both of them under the Indian Penal Code's provisions for criminal conspiracy and under Section 16 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967, which prescribes death or life imprisonment as punishment for a terrorist act.

The counsel contended that Devendra could not be convicted under Section 16 of UAPA, as he had not actually planted the bombs. The court adjourned the hearing till March 18, while giving time to the counsel to produce judgments of the Supreme Court and High Courts on this aspect.

Devendra, who worked for RSS in Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh, was the first person arrested by the sleuths of the Rajasthan Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) in 2010. He was accused of obtaining several SIM cards on forged names and identity cards. Two SIM cards were found in the unattended bag left by Bhavesh.

Bhavesh, a resident of Bharuch district in Gujarat, travelled to Ajmer and kept a tiffin carrier containing the bomb just outside the tomb of the Sufi saint, where the devotees were breaking their Ramzan fast. He kept another bag containing a bomb elsewhere on the dargah premises, but it did not explode and was recovered by some policemen.

While convicting three persons, the court had acquitted self-styled monk and former RSS activist Swami Aseemanand and six others in the case with the observation that there was insufficient evidence against them.

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Printable version | Dec 1, 2020 5:08:37 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/2007-ajmer-dargah-blast-case-sentence-pronouncement-deferred-to-march-18/article17473236.ece

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