Four persons convicted of the serial blasts that killed 71 people and left 200 injured in the Walled City of Jaipur in May 2008 were sentenced to death by a Special Court here on Friday. The four were held guilty of planting the bombs and carrying out explosions, while one of the accused, charged with sending an e-mail claiming responsibility for the blasts, was acquitted.
Special Judge Ajay Kumar Sharma awarded the death penalty to Mohammed Saif (34), Mohammed Sarwar Azmi (36), Saifur Rehman (36) and Mohammed Salman (34), after convicting them on Wednesday under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, and the Explosives Act, in eight cases registered by the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) of the police.
Lucknow resident Shahbaz Ahmed (43), who was the first to be arrested three months after the blasts, was acquitted in all the cases for want of evidence. The ATS had claimed that he had sent an e-mail to media houses on behalf of the Indian Mujahideen two days after the blasts.
The IPC provisions under which the four convicts were awarded capital punishment, life imprisonment, sentences of various terms and fine included Sections 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 121-A (conspiracy for waging war against government), 124-A (sedition), 153-A (promoting enmity between groups) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy).
The court held that Saif was involved in the blast at the Manak Chowk Police Station, while Sarwar carried out the blast at the Chandpol Hanuman temple. Saifur Rehman was convicted of planting bombs at five different locations and Salman was held guilty of the blast at the Sanganeri Gate Hanuman temple. All of them hail from Uttar Pradesh.
‘Will file appeal’
Defence lawyer Paker Farooq said he would file an appeal against the judgment in the High Court when the case goes there on Monday next for confirmation of the death verdict. “We will challenge the sentence. This verdict is based on conjectures and surmises... There was no direct evidence and the circumstantial evidence was not trustworthy.”
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said the judgment was correct and it should be welcomed. “Those who believe in violence should be taught a lesson... whoever they are. This judgment had been delivered 11 years after the incident,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a function.
During the arguments on the sentence, the prosecution demanded the death penalty for the convicts on Thursday, while defence counsel sought leniency, contending that the convicts have already spent 11 years in jail and that they belonged to decent families with no history of crime. Counsel also claimed that Salman was a juvenile at the time of the offence.
The eight ammonium nitrate-based bombs, which went off within a span of 20 minutes, were strapped to bicycles. They were packed with metal splinters or ball bearings to carry out heavy damage in the crowded areas.
The Special Court was established in the Bani Park District Courts complex on December 4, 2009. The judge pronounced the sentence in the presence of the four convicts amid tight security in the complex.