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Published in the 1-15 Aug 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

11 get life term for Mumbai train blasts

New Delhi: A sessions court in Mumbai on July 9 awarded life sentence to 11 persons accused of masterminding serial bomb blasts in the city’s suburban trains and railway stations in 1998. Four persons were killed and 30 injured in those blasts.

Javed Gulam Hussain, one of the convicted persons, is a Pakistani national. Another Pakistani national, Shamshad Haider Qadar, was acquitted because of lack of evidence. The court ordered to deport him to Pakistan at the earliest. 
The special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam had sought death penalty for Aftab Sayed Ahmed, Asghar Kadar Shaikh, Farooq Yusuf Shaikh and Javed Ghulam Hussain. The Additional Sessions Judge, V. L. Achalya rejected his request but directed the Maharashtra government not to invoke its discretionary powers to condone the sentence and release them after 14 years or reduce the sentence. The court has also directed the jail authorities to lodge the accused in separate cells, bearing in mind the gravity of the offences committed by them.

The accused have been charged for murder and conspiracy under sections 10-B, 302, 304, 307, 324, 326 of Indian Penal Code and section 151 of the Indian Railways Act 1989 among others.

According to Nikam, the accused had allegedly hatched a conspiracy in December 1997 at the behest of the Inter Services Intelligence to create a chain of explosions at railway stations, platforms and railway tracks in the city to induce fear and destabilise the country. Between January 23 and February 27, 1998, five bomb blasts were carried out.
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