3 get death for Mumbai blasts

HC orders retrial of two other accused in 2003 explosions

The Bombay High Court on Friday confirmed the death sentence of the three convicts, including a married couple, in the 2003 Gateway of India and Zaveri Bazaar bomb blasts case.

The bomb blasts had left 54 dead and over 150 others injured.

The court, however, ordered a retrial for two other accused in the case under IPC and not under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA 2002.).

The special court (POTA) in August 2009, six years after the blasts, had awarded death sentence to an auto driver Haneef Sayyed (46) wife Fahmeeda (43) and Ashrat Ansari (32,) on grounds that they were the conduits through which an outfit called Laskar-e-Taiba (LeT) had carried out blasts in two congested areas of south Mumbai.

The prosecution contention then was that the trio had earlier planted a low-intensity bomb in a BEST bus in north-eastern suburb Ghatkopar, killing both the driver and the conductor of the vehicle.

“However, not being satisfied with the low impact of the Ghatkopar blast, the trio - residents of a slum chawl in north-western suburb Sakinaka- carried out high intensity blasts in Zaveri Bazaar and Gateway of India, at the behest of LeT,” the prosecution alleged, adding that the crime was carried out to avenge post-Godhra Gujarat riots.

According to the prosecution, while the couple had left a bomb in a taxi, Ansari had planted the bomb in Zaveri Bazaar. The entire conspiracy was hatched in Dubai by Haneef, Ashrat, Nasir and some alleged Pakistani nationals. Nasir was later alleged to have been killed in a police encounter.

The police during investigations had also arrested Mohammed Ansari Ladoowala, Mohammed Hazan Batterywalla and the couple’s 16-year-old daughter who was later discharged as she was a minor.

However, the POTA review committee had suggested that the evidence against Ladoowala and Batterywala was circumstantial in nature and that the accused were not aware of the gravity of the crime.

All the convicts and accused had moved the higher court challenging the sentence, even as the state had done the same seeking a confirmation of the sentence awarded by the lower court. On November 12, last year the High Court had reserved its judgement in the case.

The High Court while upholding the death sentence to the three POTA convicts, ordered that Ladoowala and Batterywala should be tried under IPC.

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