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Death for trio behind 2003 Mumbai bombings


Mumbai : A husband-wife pair and their close associate were Thursday given the death sentence by a special court for their involvement in the August 2003 twin blasts in Mumbai in which 54 people were killed.

Special Judge of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) M.R. Puranik sent Mohammed Hanif Sayed, his wife Fahimida M.H. Sayed and their aide Ashrat Shafique Ansari to the gallows, 10 days after he held them guilty for the Aug 25, 2003 bombings in Gateway of India and Zaveri Bazaar.

The trio, said to be members of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, were convicted under sections of the stringent Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) the Explosives Substances Act, the Damage to Public Property Act as well as the Indian Penal Code (IPC), said special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam.

“This is a significant judgement. It’s because of these ‘devils’ that 54 persons lost their lives and another 244 were injured,” Nikam, who led the prosecution case during the six-year trial, said.

Arguing for the death penalty, Nikam said they intended to target foreign tourists who throng the Gateway of India and the famous Mahalaxmi Temple. However, since their vehicle developed a snag, the second blast took place in Zaveri Bazaar, the hub of the jewellery trade in the city.

Defence lawyers — Wahab Khan (representing Hanif), Sudesh Pasgola (Fahimida) and S. Kunjuraman (Ashrat) — had said their clients were innocent.

“This is a baseless and meaningless judgement. There is not an iota of evidence against my client (Ashrat) to hold him guilty. I shall move the Bombay High Court,” Kunjuraman said after the ruling came in.

Khan had argued that this was not “the rarest of rare cases” so it did not warrant the death penalty.

“My client had no personal grudge against any of the victims in the incidents, they were simply misguided and indoctrinated,” Khan had said.