Hyderabad Twin Blasts: 2 Accused Get Death Penalty, 1 Life Term

The quantum of punishment was pronounced by the court on Monday, 10 September.

Updated
India
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A metropolitan court in Hyderabad sentenced two terrorists convicted in the 2007 twin blasts case to death and another to life imprisonment on Monday, 10 September.

Two powerful explosions had ripped through a popular eatery and an open air theatre in the city on 25 August, 2007, killing 44 people and wounding 68.

While the Second Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judge (in-charge) T Srinivas Rao had, on 4 September, pronounced Aneeq Shafique Sayeed and Mohammed Akbar Ismail Chowdhari, two of the accused, guilty in the 11-year-old case, the court on Monday awarded them death penalty and convicted a fifth accused in the case, Tarik Anjum, for harbouring the perpetrators in New Delhi and other places and handed down life imprisonment to him.

The court had earlier acquitted two of the other accused in the case, Farooq Sharfuddin Tarkash and Mohammed Sadiq Israr Ahmed Shaik, for want of enough evidence.

The blasts were carried out by the banned outfit Indian Mujahideen (IM). The founders of IM–Riyaz and Iqbal Bhatkal–named in the chargesheets filed by police, along with an Amir Reza Khan are reportedly absconding.

The Bhatkal brothers of Karnataka are believed to have taken shelter in Pakistan.

The twin bombings happened 11 years ago, on 25 August, 2007. Gokul Chat is located near the city’s Koti area, and Lumbini Park is near the Secretariat on Tank Bund Road. More than 150 witnesses were questioned and cross-examined during the decade-long trial, the hearing for which concluded on 7 August.

The 4 September verdict was delivered by Sessions Judge Srinivas Rao, who also delivered the verdict in other crucial cases like the Begumpet Task Force building bomb blast and the attack on Akbaruddin Owaisi.

The Case

The first blast took place as several people, including a large group of tourists from Maharashtra, were watching a laser show at Lumbini Park – famous for its boat rides to the giant Buddha statue in Hussain Sagar lake.

Within minutes, the second blast took place at Koti, a business hub and a haunt for book lovers in the city. One unexploded bomb was also found near Dilsukhnagar, and was later defused by police forces.

The Counter Intelligence (CI) wing of the Telangana Police, which is investigating the case, said that banned outfit Indian Mujahideen (IM) was responsible for the blasts and the main accused, Riyaz and Iqbal Bhatkal, who are the founders of IM, are absconding.

A chargesheet was filed in 2013 against Riyaz and Iqbal Bhatkal, Aneeq Shafique Sayeed, Mohammed Sadiq, Ismail Chaudhary, Ansar Ahmed Badshah Sheikh and a seventh person. They were booked under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Explosive Substances Act.

While Aneeq Shafique Sayeed, Mohammed Sadiq, Ismail Chaudhary and Ansar Ahmed Badshah Sheikh are lodged in the Cherlapally prison, the remaining three are absconding.

2 Convicted Were Assigned to Identify Crowded Places for Bombing

According to the police, Riyaz Bhatkal had asked Mohammed Akbar Ismail Chaudhary, a resident of Pune, to visit Hyderabad and identify crowded places to plant bombs. As instructed, he conducted a recce across Hyderabad and planted bombs at several places, out of which two exploded.

The investigating authorities had earlier said that terrorists used Neogel-90, an ammonium nitrate base, in the improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

In 2014, IM co-founder Iqbal Bhatkal said that he had supplied explosives to Riyaz, days before the blast. In a statement before a magistrate in Miyapur, he said:

I supplied IEDs to Riyaz Bhatkal in Udupi, Karnataka, 8-10 days prior to the blasts at Gokul Chat and Lumbini Park. I do not know the people who participated in the two blasts in Hyderabad,
Iqbal Bhatkal, Indian Mujahideen

The confession was part of the chargesheet filed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) before a Delhi court.

When quizzed about their motive, the accused reportedly told investigators that they wanted to take revenge for the blasts carried out in Mecca Masjid.

On 18 May, 2007, as thousands gathered for the Friday prayers at Mecca Masjid, considered one of the holiest sites in the city, two blasts ripped through the mosque, killing 9 people, injuring 58 others.

Earlier this year, an NIA special court in Hyderabad acquitted 5 accused in the case, including main accused Swami Aseemanand, citing lack of evidence.

(With inputs from PTI and The News Minute)

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