Gallows sought for three in 2003 blast case

It is one of the rarest of the rare cases, says the prosecution

Gallows sought for three in 2003 blast case

 Fahmeeda Syed Mohammed Haneef, one of the convicts in the 2003 Mumbai bombings, is escorted by police personnel outside the Byculla Jail before being taken to court in Mumbai on Tuesday. AP

The special court dealing with the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) cases heard arguments by the prosecution and the defence on the quantum of punishment and deferred its ruling to Thursday.

The prosecution sought noose for Hanif Sayed Anees (46), his wife Fahmida (43) and  Arshat Ansari (32), saying that the three had carried out designs of the Pakistani terror outfit Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) to create terror in India through bomb attacks at various places in Mumbai.

“It was one of the rarest of the rare case and the convicts should be given death penalty,”  special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam told the court.

The three convicts were held guilty by the court last week for planting two bombs that exploded at the Gateway of India and Zaveri Bazaar in South Mumbai on August 25, 2003. They had also planted a bomb on July 28, 2003, in a municipal bus in suburban Ghatkopar which killed two persons.

Hanif, Ansari and the blast mastermind Nasir made bombs at Hanif's Andheri house. Nasir, a resident of Hyderabad, was killed by the police in an encounter after the blasts. While Hanif and Fahmida had planted the bomb in a taxi they had hired and left at the Gateway of India, Ansari had kept the bomb in the second taxi, that exploded in Zaveri Bazaar.

It was again Fahmida, wearing a traditional burqa, who had planted a bomb with a timer device on the municipal bus, which exploded in the Ghatkopar suburb.

This is for the first time a couple has been convicted of terror acts under POTA. When designated judge M R Puranik asked the convicts if they have anything to say on the quantum of punishment, Ansari replied: “Mujhe manzoor nahim hai (the verdict is not acceptable to me).” 

Fahmida said: “I have not done anything.” “Ek aurat ko atankwadi thehrate ho. Meri bachi bhi lawaris hain (You are treating a woman as a terrorist. My child has become an orphan).” Nikam was undaunted in his arguments. Citing Supreme Court judgments to demand death penalty, the prosecutor said the convicts were “exceptionally cruel” and had “total disregard for human lives.”

No remorse

Fahmida, although a woman, participated in the crime willingly and no one had compelled her to assist her husband in terrorist acts. “The convicts have shown no remorse for their acts, and they are unlikely to be reformed,” Nikam said. The convicts themselves have not sought any reduction in sentence.

On his part, Fahmida’s lawyer Sudeep Pasbola said she came from the lower strata of society and had children to look after.

“Fahmida came from a traditional Muslim family where males dominate. She had merely followed her husband in the crime as she had no choice. She deserves lesser punishment,” he argued. He argued that the capital punishment was “absolutely not justified.”

Hanif's lawyer Wahab Khan argued that Hanif did not have criminal antecedents. He had gone to Dubai to earn a living but was lured into a conspiracy by Pakistani nationals after he was shown CDs of alleged atrocities on Muslims. He sought lifer for Hanif.
According to the prosecution, the LeT had used a family for the first time to trigger bomb blasts in Mumbai. The terror outfit’s role was bared by an accused-turned-approver who told the court that the conspiracy meeting was held in Dubai, which was attend by LeT operatives from Pakistan.

The motive behind the blasts was to seek revenge for the atrocities perpetrated against the minority community after the Godhra carnage in Gujarat in 2002, the prosecution has argued.

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